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'A day to celebrate' - Ashton

The day has been a long time coming for City Chief Executive Officer Mark Ashton, who has been involved in many conversations about a new Robins training facility.

But now it has become a reality.

City players and staff officially moved on site on Monday, March 29th, safely and securely with COVID-19 social distancing measures in place across the facility.

The Robins High Performance Centre includes a floodlit showpitch, capable of hosting the club’s Under-18 and Under-23 matches, two other full-size pitches and two further training areas.

The building itself houses a gym, hydrotherapy pool, changing rooms, medical and rehabilitation facilities, a tactics room and office space, as well as education and welfare facilities for City's young players.

Moving from the neighbouring Failand base to the all-new, state-of-the-art Robins High Performance Centre marks a new chapter in City’s history, and Ashton is delighted for what it means for the future of the football club.

🎥 WATCH: MARK ASHTON DISCUSSES THE ROBINS HIGH PERFORMANCE CENTRE

CEO Ashton told Robins TV: “A lot of work has gone into this over a number of years from a lot of people. It’s a real day to celebrate for this football club, it gives us the best opportunity to move forward, linking the Academy with the development side of the Under-23s and the first team. It’s a great day for the football club, it’s been a long time coming and we’re really pleased to be opening the doors.”

The vision of a new training complex has been muted for many years - six in fact since initial ideas were discussed and drawn up, with many challenges in the mix including the planning application process and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ashton explained: “The club needed its own High Performance Centre. When I came back to the club as CEO five years ago I remember on the morning I arrived, I pulled up in the car park to meet one of the group directors. I was given a folder and he said the football club had a problem. The temporary planning permission at Failand ran out at the end of the season and the club faced a potential issue.

“We started to sketch through quickly, addressing with the planners, an extension of the temporary planning and we put more short-term facilities on site to see us through. We visited other football clubs, looked at the old planning permission in place and what did the club really need. I remember sketching out in my office all the different levels of facilities to help the club develop more players effectively, quicker and as professionally as we could.”

The site for the Robins High Performance Centre in June 2018
The completed Robins High Performance Centre in March 2021

It has been a hot topic of conversation ever since, as Ashton continued: “We always recruited players and staff and talked to them about a new training ground coming and some of those players have come and gone.

“I was talking to Callum O’Dowda, Taylor Moore and Andreas Weimann about the conversations we had about this wonderful training ground when I signed them and now we’re here with the doors opening! Staff alike, a lot of the staff have been here for a number of years and we’ve talked time and time again about this purpose-built facility that will allow us to develop our players more effectively and it’s happening.

“Talking to the likes of Brian Tinnion, who I joke with has been here forever, he’s really excited and it’s a great day for the football club. It is the way forward for us.”

The Academy will move from SGS College, Filton across the City to the Robins High Performance Centre in the summer and Ashton added: “I go back to Brian, Gary Probert (Academy Manager) and Gary Davenport (Assistant Academy Manager) where we’ve talked about how to take our Academy forward, what’s missing, how do we develop players more effectively, how do we bring things together quickly and get them ready for first-team football?

"The one thing that’s come through time and time again is we need to be on one site. For the young players to come in everyday and be alongside the first-team players off the pitch and train with them on it, it offers such a different opportunity to develop - it can only bring positive things.”

🎥 WATCH: THE ROBINS HIGH PERFORMANCE CENTRE BEING BUILT

The Robins High Performance Centre is more than just a building and training pitches - it’s a space for the club to embrace its core values and high standards are to be set across the board on a day-to-day basis.

Ashton said: “I’ve spoken to Nigel Pearson about the culture in the building and on the pitches and our first team players will have to take more responsibility in how they conduct themselves day to day because how they behave daily will reflect in our younger players. It’s the same for our staff; they will have to set even higher standards, be really clear in how we behave. Our mission, vision and values have to be set clearly from the top because now it has the opportunity to flow right the way through our Academy and that can only be a good thing.”

Chairman Jon Lansdown and Chief Executive Officer Mark Ashton during the construction

The Robins High Performance Centre would not be possible without the funding of the club’s owners Steve and Maggie Lansdown. Their investment has made the facility possible and help the club continue to develop on more solid foundations than ever before.

“It’s beyond words. Yet again they’ve stepped up to the plate,” said Ashton, who has been given the go-ahead at every stage to ensure City would have their new complex.

“From day one Steve said ‘get on with it’. We went through the formal planning application process which was difficult and challenging - and rightly so - to designing and building this new, wonderful facility.

“We got the building underway and then we hit Covid-19. Did the Lansdowns say ‘stop, hold?’ No, they said ‘carry on’ and we did throughout Covid-19. Words can’t express mine or the club’s feelings because yet again they have put their hands in their pockets and funded a facility for this football club which will see it in the best possible place for decades to come.

“We owe them a debt of gratitude because without them this wouldn’t happen. It’s a moment in time for this football club and the only thing we can do is yet again say 'thank you'.”

Supporters should keep an eye on City's social channels and the club website for more content and news on the Robins High Performance Centre as it opened its doors this week...

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