The project will initially include the creation of two and a half new training pitches, a fitness suite, and offices for football department staff, while the existing changing rooms and player lounge will be refurbished.
Despite several seasons in the Premier League, culminating in an FA Cup win in 2008 the club have never had a training base to call home.
That is all set to change with work well underway on a new facility at Roko Health Club in the City
According to manager Andy Awford the Club will finally have a training ground of their own and he's delighted:
'All the places we’ve been over the years have been fantastic, but we need somewhere that we can call our own. I remember doing one pre-season down on Southsea Common when I was a player and hopefully that’s something we won’t have to do again. We won the FA Cup when we were based out of Eastleigh, but it was never really ours and this will be. Having our own place will give us a renewed focus and help us continue to rebuild this club.
'It won’t be a case of us pitching up at Roko – this will be Portsmouth Football Club’s training ground. We tried to move the academy base here a few years ago, but then we went into administration and those plans got shared. But we were able to pick those up again and adjust them for where we are now and what we want to achieve.
Pompey plan to move into the new base during next season, but Awford has refused to set a date. He said:
'It’s important that we don’t move until everything’s ready – the pitches, the changing rooms and the gym. The whole environment has to be right and if we have to wait an extra month then that’s what we’ll do. When we finally do walk through the door then it will be a fantastic venue for us.
'Pompey’s Chief Executive, Mark Caitlin, has described the launch of the new training ground as, ‘One of the most significant investments in the club in almost a quarter of a century’.
A 30-year lease has been signed with Roko to use the Copnor Road fitness centre, which will give the club a permanent training base in the city for the first time since the 1980s.
Speaking after the club unveiled its plans, Catlin explained the new facility would initially have two-and-a-half pitches – laid to the same specification as the Fratton Park surface – a new fitness and medical centre, changing rooms and a compound for the ground staff and machinery. He said:
'This is massive for the football club. The board has shown its commitment to creating a future legacy of this club with a significant six-figure sum. It is without doubt the most major infrastructure investment in the club since the Fratton End was rebuilt in the 1990s. The fact we have been able to make such an investment just one year into community ownership is incredible. As a club we all owe a debt of gratitude to the chairman, board of directors, individual presidents and the PST for making this dream a reality.'
'I believe that the club has never really had a training ground it could call its own and I am very proud that we have finally put that right. It will make us a far more attractive proposition to prospective signings.
Catlin revealed the training ground had been financed by a combination of investment from individual presidents – including a substantial contribution by lifelong Pompey fan Ian Silvester – and share capital raised by the Pompey Supporters’ Trust. He also explained that the investment won’t stop there:
“The next phase of this project is to take up an option on two further pitches to the east adjacent to the railway line and bring our youth academy down here. That will be a significant project in its own right. We are already looking at raising further capital to put towards this goal and the club will be launching an innovative crowd funding project later in the summer.
The club will continue to use the facility at the University of Portsmouth until the new Roko site is completed.