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Work to begin on England's national football centre

LONDON (Reuters) - Building work on England's much-delayed National Football Center will begin in January, the Football Association said on Thursday.

The 105 million pound ($167 million) project, which was first suggested in 2001, has been repeatedly put back because of doubts over funding. The site will be in Burton-upon-Trent, central England.

The center, widely expected to be an English version of France's Clairefontaine academy, is due to be completed in mid 2012 after the FA board agreed to underwrite the project.

"St. George's Park will be a world class facility providing top class education for future generations of English football coaches," David Sheepshanks, FA board member and chairman of the National Football Center board, said in a statement.

The center will act as a hub to 1,400 coaches whose job it will be to train a further 250,000 coaches to work in clubs and communities by 2018.

"It will also be an internationally-leading sports medicine and performance research center; a training home to enhance international team development; and an inspirational hub for everyone involved in football from the grassroots to elite," Sheepshanks added.

(Reporting by Toby Davis; Editing by Sonia Oxley)

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