Football: English club after young talent in Dunedin

The South's most promising footballers will be given a direct pathway to a professional career when an English club establishes a development centre in Dunedin.

Burnley Football Club is to introduce the centre, probably by April, as part of its Australasian Academy structure.

It will provide talented young players (ages 6 to 16) an opportunity to get top coaching and potentially, if they are good enough, earn a professional contract.

The centre will not be in brick-and-mortar form but will effectively be a top-class coaching programme.

Burnley academy representatives will be in Dunedin within weeks to look at players, make presentations to parents and scout a potential venue for the centre.

Footballsouth will have no direct involvement but Burnley will forge a link with a local club, which will provide a training ground. Burnley will contract coaches, both locally and from further afield, and provide training equipment.

Entry into the development centre will cost $660 per training phase - the first is April to September, and the second October to March - though acceptance will also depend on ability.

Players will be kitted out in Burnley's claret gear and receive either two (in season) or three (out of season) training sessions every week for 45 weeks, plus game analysis programmes.

If the Dunedin development centre goes well, it could be upgraded to a full academy (ages 11 to 18).

Burnley might not be in the same financial league as Manchester City or Chelsea but it is a well-resourced club keen to spread its scouting net.

It will have first call on any talented prospect to emerge from the Dunedin development centre.

Burnley, based in the town of the same name about 35km north of Manchester, was in the English Premier League as recently as 2009-10, for a one-season spell after 33 years out of the top flight. It is presently eighth in the second-tier Championship.

The club already has a strong Otago connection. Cameron Howieson, the 18-year-old former Mosgiel midfielder, is contracted to Burnley. He has made a handful of senior appearances, helped the youth side beat Manchester United in the FA Cup, and played at the Olympics and for the All Whites last year.

Former Mosgiel and Otago United defender Matt Brook works for Burnley's major academy base in Perth.

As well as setting up in Dunedin, Burnley will establish development centres in Christchurch. That city also has the Asia Pacific Football Academy, run with Chelsea Football Club, which helped develop Howieson.