Fifa president Sepp Blatter announces £315,000 grant for St. George’s Park

FA chairman David Bernstein hopes the funding will help to improve their relationship with Fifa following disagreements over presidential elections and the 2018 World Cup bid
Fifa presient Sepp Blatter has awarded £315,000 to St. George’s Park as part of the 'Goal Project' during a visit to the Football Association's sport science and medical centre.

The complex, situated in Burton, Staffordshire, opened earlier in the summer and cost around £105 million to build. It is hoped that the extra money from the Fifa Development Committee will help to make the park a recognised Medical Centre of Excellence.

Blatter praised all those involved for making the park a top-of-the-range facility, while highlighting his delight at being able to help and insisting that the extra money will help the Three Lions become more of a force in world football.

"This tour has been a great experience,” he told Fifa's official website. “The facilities here are fantastic and set a very high standard for the rest of the world. We are delighted to have made a contribution to the medical centre, which is truly impressive.

"I congratulate everyone involved. In years to come England are sure to have good teams coming through because of the opportunities St George's offers."

The announcement of the grant comes after a frosty relationship between the FA and Fifa, with the former's chairman, David Bernstein, unsuccessfully calling for Blatter postpone the 2011 presidential election instead of running unopposed.

There have also been continual disagreements over England's failure to win the 2018 World Cup bid, which attracted just one vote other than the FA's itself in 2010.

Bernstein indicated that the funding represents an improvement of relations between the two bodies, while also thanking Fifa for their support.

He said: “This is fantastic and reflects Fifa's commitment to raising standards within the game around the world and to our improving relationship with Fifa.

"I’d like to thank our colleagues at Fifa for their support of St. George’s Park as well as those who continue to work so hard on the project here in England.”

The two bodies are also to sign a "Memorandum of Understanding", in which the FA is to offer expertise to different Fifa member associations. This will include them providing help in areas such as technical and sports medicine, stadium safety, women's football and revenue generation.

Those working at St George's Park also hailed Fifa for their funding, suggesting that it will help to improve an already impressive facility, especially in the area of sports science, which they should reap benefits from in the future.

David Sheepshanks, chairman of the complex, added: “The medical facilities at St. George’s Park will hugely advance sports medicine as we know it in England. This Fifa funding is significant in that it enables us to step up our work in the critical area of sports science, which is a key function of St. George’s Park.”

Launched by Blatter in 1999 the 'Goal Project' is a source of Fifa funding available to each of its member associations and has provided around £157m to over 600 projects so far.