Chelsea FC have welcomed the launch of FC Barcelona’s training camps on their doorstep saying they are glad to see the club follow their lead.

The Spanish giants kicked off their academy expansion plans with training sessions for children aged seven to 16 at ACS International School in Cobham from April 18 to 22.

ACS Cobham is less than two miles away from Chelsea’s training ground and the academy camps will move the Spanish giants into their Chelsea rivals’ youth talent catchment zone.

A Chelsea spokesman said: “They are simply following our hugely successful soccer schools programme which provides coaching opportunities for thousands of children every year.

“We hope that Barcelona also follow our lead in investing the income generated back into the local community.”

The first of the camps, which cost £129 for a week of sessions, began on Monday.

Organiser Mark Taylor said he had been pleased with the turnout.

He said “The news spread very quickly.

“It broke one morning a few weeks ago and by lunchtime the same day they were apparently talking about it back in Barcelona.”

Word about the camps certainly spread far afield.

Belgian parents Guy LeCompte, 45, and his wife Caroline, 37, travelled from their home in Antwerp to watch their sons Maxim, 13, and Gauthier, 11, put through the drills by one of the Spanish coaches.

They said they came especially to experience the unique Barcelona training style after seeing a story about the camps in a local newspaper.

Mr LeCompe said: “Barcelona are the best team in the world.

“My boys were very happy for a chance to train with them and mix with the other boys.

“We heard there was a bit of controversy with Chelsea being so close by, but if there is two European Championship teams close by then it has got to be encouraging for the young players.”

This week’s training is the first in a series of five planned to take place throughout the year, with the next session set to begin on June 20.