Ever since Manchester City were taken over by the Abu Dhabi Royal Family there has been a lazy argument claiming that they have no interest in the club, the City or even football. Anyone willing to do a little bit of research however would have learnt that there was nothing in those arguments whatsoever, and the announcement coming from the club today will go a long way to putting that silly argument to bed.
The club are hoping to create the best training facilities in the world for their first team, but also the best youth training facilities as well. The remit of the development however goes further than just the game, one of the cornerstones of the plans is to aid the redevelopment and rejuvenation of one of the most deprived areas of Manchester, the needs and the thoughts of the local people are extremely high on the list of priorities.
As anyone interested in the game is aware, City have always been highly successful in youth development, but they have exhausted their current set up, and with these plans they will be able to go onto the next level and make the club the most attractive prospect in world football for young players from both Britain and further afield. As well as a 7,000 capacity stadium (which will also be available to local community groups) there will be a state of the art education centre and accommodation for upto 40 players.
11 full sized youth training pitches (which again can be used by the community)as well as a half sized pitch, a specialist sports rehabilitation and injury centre, and all round facilities capable of the training of 400 young players. As we are all well aware the future of football clubs isn’t big spending to secure the best players in the world, the ideal model is a club nurturing the best youngsters who will eventually fill the first team and it is that process that sets the scene for this development.
The first team currently train at Carrington next door to Manchester United , but that site is no longer suitable for a club with the ambitions of City, the facilities are good but could be improved and these needs will all be catered for on the new site. The ability to train in house will obviously be preferable for the players and it would make the match day experience for the first team squad much easier.
The focus however is on so much more than football, and whilst this is a football site I think it is important to not forget about the bigger picture, the club will be creating 160 construction jobs and 90 permanent jobs, 80% of which will be earmarked for local people, that is as well as a new 6th form college that will be part of the newly formed Etihad campus.
Local infrastructure will be greatly improved with the construction of 2 new metrolink stations and the environmental impact is clearly wonderful with this old brownfield site being totally transformed. What is currently an eye sore is going to become one of the best facilities of its kind in the world. The planting of tree’s and hedging will ensure the site improves the aesthetics of the local area and this thinking is partly responsible for the huge positive feedback that the club has received.
People who raised question marks over the figure that Etihad have put into the club have clearly lost sight of the bigger picture; the sponsorship deal covers not just the stadium but also this forward thinking and impressive development centre. There are clearly not just benefits here for the club but also the community that live around the site, anyone still questioning the mindset of our owners will now have to find something else to moan about because the notion of them getting bored and walking away at this point seems totally laughable. The full scale ideas and thoughts behind the scheme can be seen here, hopefully any doubters can now be put in their place, Sheikh Mansour losing interest after a couple of years? Do me a favour…