The Football Association had made a number of attempts to establish a National Football Centre from the early 70’s through to the 90’s but ultimately all attempts had failed for various reasons.
The FA finally purchased Byrkley Park, in the heart of the National Forest in 2001 and in the same year secured planning permission for the development of a National Football Centre. However, financial constraints meant that the development was again postponed in 2004.
Due to Bob’s experience in the football industry and in stadia development he was asked to join the FA Board of the National Football Centre in 2008, as Project Director, to drive delivery of the project on time and to budget. As the only Director outside of the FA he was thrilled to accept the challenge. He actively sought the support of both the game and the nation to fund and build the national football centre.
The FA’s Professional and National Game Boards gave their unanimous backing to begin construction of the £105m project at an announcement in London in November 2010. Work started on the 330 acre site close to Burton-upon-Trent in January 2011 and was completed on time and within budget in the summer of 2012.
The centre incorporates state of the art educational facilities, medical facilities, sports science, a full size indoor pitch, hotel & recreation centre. The vision that saw Bob build the Stadium of Light and Academy of Light also focused on completing one of the most ambitious projects in world football. He said: “This world class facility will change the face of English football by producing quality home-grown players, coaches and managers of whom we can be proud”.
Bob was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration from Leeds Metropolitan University in 2008, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to business in Yorkshire and the sports industry.