The £55 billion pound HS2 or ‘High Speed’ project, designed to cut rail travel times from the Midlands to London stands to wreak havoc on Aston Villa's academy at Bodymoor Heath
As preparations for Phase 1 of the project begin, Aston Villa’s boardroom have recently stepped up their efforts to express concerns on the projects impact to the club and its training facility. According to the Birmingham Mail, CEO Keith Wyness is meeting with Rail Minister Paul Maynard to reach an agreement. Late last year, Villa requested multi-million pound compensation from the project. There are no indications that the current round of talks has lead to a deal as of now.
HS2 plans include the acquisition of 10 percent of the training ground through compulsory purchase orders. These orders will place the land containing two academy training pitches into the control of HS2. It will also bring the project close to the first-team practice area. Construction noise and eventual train activity will likely disrupt practice and player development activity.
Uncertainty about the facility puts Villa's future at risk. Current first-team contributors such as Jack Grealish, Andre Green, and Keinan Davis have obviously benefited from Villa's academy. Shuttering the academy could cost Villa a critical player pipeline. Players moving on to other clubs at a youth level could impact Villa for years. With no youth system and a difficult training environment for the first-team players, current progress toward stabilizing the club could be undone.
Villa's highly-regarded academy serves as a supply line for talent, not only for the club, but possibly for England as well. Randy Lerner recently poured £9 million pounds in rehabilitating the facility - Villa's training home since 1975. That might have gone to waste.