Eddie Mitchell’s FTY Lab football centre to open at Branksome

FORMER football chairman Eddie Mitchell is set to open an indoor soccer skills centre at a Poole shopping park next month.

The businessman has spent six months kitting out the former Mothercare in Branksome with football and fitness equipment.

The FTY Lab is set to open to sponsors and guests on Friday, April 16, and to the public the following day, if the government’s roadmap out of lockdown happens as planned.

Mr Mitchell, former property developer and ex-chairman of AFC Bournemouth and Dorchester Town, said: “We’ve spent a fortune and it’s been a lot of hard work.”

Eddie Mitchell opens UK’s first Technical Football Centre in Bournemouth

His company Elite Skills Arena makes and sells soccer skills equipment used around the world and monitors its use in places from Barcelona to Las Vegas.

Mr Mitchell piloted his own indoor football skills centre at Iford PlayGolf at Christchurch and moved to bigger premises at Branksome’s Poole Retail Park during the Covid shutdown.

He said there would be 15 different products at the centre. “It allows players to train on their own and gives players 60 per cent of the normal game,” he said.

“They can practice on their own, passing, crossing, balance work, speed, all things that are fundamental in the game and all the attributes that are needed to make a footballer, other than tactics and desire.”

Property magnate Eddie Mitchell is back at work – just weeks after his heart stopped twice at a Poole Co-op

The government aims to open large parts of the economy from April 12 under step two of the route out of lockdown.

The scheduled opening of FTY Lab to the public will see “pay and play” sessions available along with monthly memberships.

Plans are being laid to open up to 20 other FTY Labs. “We’re looking to take them out across the country,” Mr Mitchell said.

His team is headed by Sam Freeman and Mr Mitchell’s sons Tom and Josh Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell spent three weeks in a medically induced coma in 2018 following open heart surgery. He had become ill at work and collapsed in a nearby Co-Op, where an off-duty doctor performed CPR until an ambulance arrived.

He said he was now feeling “fine” and getting up at 6.30am to work 10-11 hour days.

Bournemouth Echo | News