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FFA to close soccer's Centre of Excellence

Football Federation Australia is closing its Canberra-based Centre of Excellence, with hopes A-League clubs can fill the breach for player development.

Socceroos Mark Viduka, Ned Zelic, John Aloisi, Carl Valeri and Lucas Neill - among many others - forged storied careers after spending time at the AIS-linked centre.

The program will end later this year, ending the $1.6-million annual investment.

FFA chief executive David Gallop says the centre had "served Australian football well over a long period but the time has come for change".

"We are working with clubs and member federations to create a player development system that will be able to grow with the game around the country," he said in an FFA statement.

"While the Centre of Excellence has helped to produce great players and still delivers a quality product, it caters to a maximum of 24 boys at Under 16 and Under 17 level at a cost of $1.6 million a year.

"We believe FFA resources can be better used in a decentralised and expanded system."

Gallop believes talented junior players were increasingly likely to choose to stay in club systems.

It remains to be seen whether the $1.6 million annual savings will be redistributed to A-League, W-League and National Premier League clubs.

Melbourne Victory midfielder Valeri has told Fairfax Media that spending time at the centre gave him the building blocks to begin a career that inclued a ten-year stint in Italian football and 52 Socceroos appearances.

"It was a career changing experience for me because going in I was very athletic but I didn't really know how to be a professional footballer and had to fine tune my skills," he said.

"The AIS have produced a lot of excellent players but I'm sure the FFA have their reasons if they do close it because the people whose job it is to decide these things are very across all the relevant information."

The centre will close in August.