In his published collection of ideas on how to excel in the football business – subtitled The ball doesn't go in by chance – the new Manchester City chief executive Ferran Soriano lists Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal as the "clubs that aspire to be leaders and global leaders". The side for which he left Barcelona don't feature.
The Spaniard evidently hadn't spotted that precisely as he was composing his book, three years ago, Manchester City were embarking on the training complex, which they view as their operations room for world domination. Having taken the best bits of the LA Lakers, Nike, the New York Giants and Arsenal for the project, City will today announce that contractors BAM have been engaged for this near £200m development, which will be completed by the time that the manager – Roberto Mancini, they hope – gathers his side for pre-season training for the 2014-15 campaign.
City sketched in more details yesterday of the complex – which relocates their current Platt Lane youth set-up and Carrington training base to 79 acres of post-industrial flatlands adjacent to the Etihad Stadium. A total of 16.5 pitches, (the 0.5 is just for goalkeepers) to go with the 7,000-capacity stadium for youth matches, 200 classroom places and a new "Velopark" Metrolink stop, are expected to be completed by the new year. There are even 2,000 trees – already being grown at a location in Cheshire – to take their place at perhaps the most ecologically sound football site in Britain. A helicopter tour of the site revealed the pipes, already laid, through which rainwater on the soil will be captured and reused.
The money their owner, Sheikh Mansour, sinks into developing what will be known as the Manchester City Football Academy (£15m has gone just on cleaning the soil) can be spent without counting as expenses in Uefa's Financial Fair Play calculations. But the development does provide more evidence of an enlightened owner, willing to spend his money on far more than highly paid football players. The Abu Dhabi owners have already spent £25m refurbishing City's current three sites. A near six-acre corner of the new site is being donated to the local community.
With Uefa flexing its muscles this week with the control panel which will police the new FFP financial landscape, City know they "have to make sure we grow our own footballers," as one senior source put it.
"It is one of the best projects around in all sports," said Patrick Vieira yesterday. "I think these facilities will give all the young players, from the youth to the first team, the chance to improve themselves and to challenge themselves." Vieira's emergence as an articulate football development executive proves that City know an asset when they see one. They can only hope their complex will deliver many more.Reuse content