Manchester City have unveiled their plans to build a new multi-million pound football academy adjacent to the Etihad Stadium, which they hope will be the envy of every club in world football.
The 80-acre site, branded the Etihad Campus, would be a new footballing academy, a state-of-the-art facility would would be a Grade 1 facility under the Football Association’s new Elite Player Performance Plan, a standard which is currently met by no club in England.
It is hoped that it would be the clubs own version of Barcelona’s La Masia academy, and would put City at the head of the crew when recruiting young British talent.
The plans which have been submitted would see on-site accommodation for 72 players, class-room facilities for 200, 16 pitches, offices and a state-of-the-art centre which would house changing rooms and rehab facility.
Furthermore, the site would also house a brand new 7,000 all-seater stadium for the youth team.
Brian Marwood, the club’s Chief Football Operations Officer, said: “This could be the most important investment the club has ever made under its new ownership.
“This is part of a 10-year strategy for long-term sustainable success.
“Phase one culminated in the club winning the FA Cup and qualifying for the Champions League last season. This signals the beginning of the next phase.
“We know that youth development has to be at the heart of this club. Investment in the transfer market has helped us reach a certain level, to stay there will take investment in player development, welfare and top-class facilities.
“While new signings were making the headlines there were changes behind the scenes even in the early days.”
Marwood said the overall cost of the development has yet to be clarified, but it is believed that it is likely to be in excess of £100m.
City have already bought most of the land, much of which was polluted by past industries, and are in the process of cleaning it.
Senior club officials have recently been on a tour of 30 elite sports development centres in nine different countries, including the Australian Institute for Sport, the LA Lakers Basketball team and FC Barcelona.
“They are the benchmark for developing young talent,” said Marwood of the Spanish champions.
“You talk about the DNA, the philosophy and the culture, and it is there at every level in terms of how they play.
“What the coaching team has tried to do is develop a philosophy but also a consistency in terms of the way we play at every level right up to the first team. In the last Champions League final Barcelona had eight players that were home-grown, which is an incredible statistic.
“They have their youth stadium adjacent to the Camp Nou, and they also have their training complex close by as well. It gives players that aspiration and inspiration to go from the academy all the way through.
“We have a proud history of bringing through players from our academy and that is something we want to enhance. What we have tried to do at every level is make it better, and develop it in a different way.
We are trying to bring through young players that can play in the Champions League. That is what we are aiming for.”
Patrick Vieira, the French former Arsenal, AC Milan and Inter Milan midfielder who is now City’s Football Development Executive, described the plans as “unbelievable” and believes that the benefits will be “widespread”.
He said: “For any player to have this facility would be really, really exciting.
“This football club wants to give people the opportunity to play for the first team and for the national team.”