New MK Dons training ground will be my legacy, says chairman Pete Winkelman

Chairman Pete Winkelman and Director John Cove
Chairman Pete Winkelman and Director John Cove

MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman hopes a new training ground will help him leave a lasting legacy at the club.

After a 10-year search for a suitable site, it was announced on Monday that the newly promoted Dons will build a training centre fit for the Premier League on land near Cosgrove.

Map of Cosgrove site

Map of Cosgrove site

It will include two 3G pitches, one of which will be available for community use, 11 academy pitches in varying sizes, four first-team pitches and four community grass pitches as well as plans for two indoor pitches.

“I worry that without investment in new facilities we will go backwards,” Mr Winkelman said.

“The higher up the leagues we go, the more we compete with the big teams – and their facilities are top notch.

“It was probably a mistake of mine in the early days, because of my naivety, that I thought it was all about the stadium. But the training ground is where everybody goes to work everyday so it is a very important place.

“I want to make sure, during my time, that I do the right thing and that I leave a legacy for this club so it can always compete at the highest level.”

Back in February Mr Winkelman voiced fears that he would have to look outside MK after struggling to secure a site inside Milton Keynes.

But the move to Cosgrove, 12 miles from the Bletchley-based stadium, will benefit everyone, he says.

“The plans we are looking at today will evolve, but I certainly hope at the end of the day we can get enough support to turn this dream into a reality.

“The stadium is something I can be so proud of, but without the training ground as well you haven’t got all of those elements which go together to make a sustainable, long-term, dynamic and ambitious football club.”

It is expected to take between three and five years to build the new facilities, which is said to be a “signifcant” investment – but the Dons boss is keeping tight-lipped about the exact cost of the venture.

A full consultation is now under way after the Dons shared plans with the residents of Cosgrove last weekend.

Visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/cctc-mkdons to express your views.