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Chelsea have been given the go ahead build a new training complex in south-west London, as they look to rival Europe’s biggest clubs, both on and off the pitch.

Chelsea are to develop a 3,338 square metre site in Cobham, southwest of London, combining a main building and 15 football pitches, three of them with undersoil heating.

The building, scheduled to open in 2006, will be partly built below ground and have a grass roof.

In recent years, Chelsea, who have spent close £250 on new players since being taken over by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, have been training at Imperial College facilities near Heathrow Airport.

Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho told the club’s website: “This is fantastic news for Chelsea. One of the reasons I joined the club was the commitment that Mr Abramovich and the board showed about investing in youth.

“With the academy, youth, reserves and first team all on the same site, this will act as an inspiration for the young players at Chelsea.”

“A modern and top training ground is also important for first team players.

“Our current home at Harlington is an excellent facility but the club needs its own home for training and top players want to know about the facilities and their environment for work before they join a club.”

Chief executive Peter Kenyon added: “The Cobham development is central to the future of the club.

“One of the many reasons we wanted Jose is that he was also firmly committed to developing our academy, youth and reserve structure.”

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