Albion have opened the new £8.5million training facility for their women’s team at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.

And they have revealed the part played by one of their well-known campaigning supporters in helping finance the venture.

Hope Powell’s team enjoyed their first training session on one of the new additional pitches on Wednesday.

Facilities also include a brand new gym, medical centre, state-of-the-art changing area and recovery facility.

The women’s hub is the latest huge investment into the club by chairman Tony Bloom.

Albion also received a £1 million grant from the Football Foundation.

And there was a donation from the late Paul Whelch and his family, who made what has been described as “a generous and significant contribution” from his estate in support of the new facility.

Albion deputy chairman and chief executive Paul Barber said: “Paul was founder of Seagulls Over London and member of the Falmer For All team who supported the club in the quest for planning permission for the American Express Community Stadium, and we have plans to honour his contribution later this season.”

Whelch died at the age of 57 just before Albion secured promotion to the Premier League in 2017.

Bloom said: “We are delighted to have opened the new building at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre.

“It provides the women’s teams with unrivalled, world-class facilities and underpins our ambitions for the club on the pitch.

“We are also extremely grateful for the continued support from American Express as part of their partnership with the club which began an amazing ten years ago.”

Barber added: “This is another significant long-term investment in the club by Tony Bloom.

“On behalf of all at the club and our supporters, I thank Tony for yet another generous contribution to Brighton and Hove Albion.

“I also would like to echo Tony’s comments and thank American Express for their continued backing, and we are very proud to see their name upon the new building.

“We are also extremely grateful to both the Football Foundation, for their support in the form of a £1million grant."

American Express vice president Beverly Sawyers said: “Our long-term partnership with the club is built on shared values including a commitment to diversity and inclusion, as well as specific investment in women’s and girls’ football.

“Sponsorship of the women’s team and nurturing female talent is an important part of this commitment, and our backing of the training ground supports this. As does our work with the girls’ football programme, run in partnership with Albion in the Community.

“It’s been exciting to be a part of the women’s team’s meteoric rise to the FA Women’s Super League and these outstanding new state-of-the-art facilities will go a long way towards helping them achieve their ambitions for the future. We’re excited to see what’s next in their incredible journey.”

The new facility will house the women’s first-team, academy and staff, as well as providing a changing facility for Albion in the Community’s community pitch.