BARNET Football Club's new £11m training ground in Harrow has been officially unveiled by England boss Fabio Capello.

The Italian was the star turn at the official opening ceremony for The Hive, which has been built on Prince Edward Playing Fields.

The development, billed as providing “Premier League quality” footballing facilities, is a joint venture between the League Two club, Harrow Council, and sports charity The Football Foundation.

However, the aspirations to develop sporting facilities on the land, in Camrose Avenue, nearly fell by the wayside.

In 2004, Wealdstone Football Club began work on a new stadium on the the 44-acre site in Edgware, but their project collapsed when external financial backers stepped away from the project a year later.

The half-built stadium fell into disrepair and the site remained derelict and unused until Barnet FC came to the rescue and proposed a training centre, youth academy, and football facilities which would be open to the public.

Tony Kleanthous, Barnet chairman, said: “This is a wonderful footballing centre of which the staff and I are very proud.

“This has been a journey and it has taken a long time – at time I never thought we would get to this point – but this is a major step forward and a fulfillment of the ambitions of Barnet Football Club.”

The new centre boasts two full size astro-turf pitches, ten grass pitches, and 14 dressing rooms, and all the facilities are available to be booked by members of the public.

It is the first stage of Barnet's plans, with a health spa, sporting injuries clinic, and 7,000-seater stadium possibly in the pipeline.

The development was backed by Harrow Council to the tune of £750,000 and Cllr Marilyn Ashton, in charge of planning, joined Mr Capello and Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA's director of football development, to do the official opening.

She said: “This site was derelict, weeds were growing everywhere and nothing was happening, and I wasn't happy about that.

“I was very pleased to meet Tony – he is a man of great vision and charisma – and in partnership we have created this centre for the community and I am very proud about that.”

Guests at this morning's official opening were treated to a tour of the new facilities, while footballers from Barnet's youth academy, who come from schools around Barnet and Harrow, had been given the morning away from lessons to train in front of Mr Capello.

The centre will open between 7am and 11pm, and is open to all.