Q&A: Rob Ray, IT Director at The FA

We speak to Rob Ray, IT Director at The FA, about the £100 million sports facility that is due to open this summer.

This summer, the Football Association (FA) will open the doors of St. George's Park - a venue it is hoping to position as the centre of excellence for football coaching, training and rehabilitation in the UK.

IT Pro caught up with Rob Ray, group director digital and information technology at The FA to discuss the infrastructure that will go into supporting the site, which will also be open to the public and businesses.

Can you tell us about St. George's Park and how it will be used?

The 330-acre site will be the primary training ground for all 24-England football teams from junior level through to the senior International players.

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The total technology budget for St. George's Park is 3 million.

The site is split into a hotel (142-bedroom Hilton and 86-bedroom Hampton), conferencing and sports facility. There will be 11 full-size outdoor pitches, including a replica Wembley pitch as well as a full-size indoor pitch and multi-purpose sports hall.

We've also developed this as a business proposition, so all the sports, accommodation and conferencing facilities will be open to non-football sports teams, the public and businesses.

How much has been invested in technology and what network infrastructure will be in place?

The technology budget is 3 million, but this also includes the cost of providing basic fixtures and TVs for the 228 hotel rooms.

The actual budget for key technology infrastructure is 1.5 million.

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We have been working together with various partners to meet our requirements. BT is providing communication to the site, including Wi-Fi and we'll also be using the Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS).

There will be two separate 500Mbps and 100Mbps lines coming into St George's Park and we may need to provision more. We've got to be able to allow staff to stream video internally, deliver content across the country and also support a hotel.

The site is in a rural area (Burton-on-Trent) so that's been a significant challenge. We've been working hard to make sure that we have a reliable, secure and flexible network across the site.

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