Work starts on City's new academy
Manchester City are starting work building a new training complex as they aim to transform 80 acres of industrial wasteland into the world's best sporting facility.
Construction starts imminently on City Football Academy, which will be part of the Etihad Campus, and will open in time for the 2014-15 season.
The £200 million pound development will feature 16.5 training pitches, a centre with classrooms for 200 youth players and a state-of-the-art first-team training building as well as a 7,000 capacity stadium.
It will be linked to the nearby Etihad Stadium by a bridge and will replace the club's current Carrington training ground and Platt Lane youth complex.
City's Football Development Executive Patrick Vieira said: "I believe it is the best project around in all sports."
City studied over 30 leading clubs and training academies across several sports before finalising their plans and Vieira added: "What I find really exciting is that before designing the facilities they have been to the football world, the basketball world and the NFL world, so a lot of hard work has been done."
It is part of their plans to become self-sufficient, as Chief Executive Ferran Soriano outlined. "The development of young and home grown players is central to our strategy of creating both a winning team and a sustainable football club - an ambition outlined by Sheikh Mansour at the outset of his ownership in September 2008," he said.
UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules come into effect in 2014, but they exclude investment in infrastructure, training facilities and youth development, so City's outlay will not count against them.
And Vieira believes it will help them develop new players to reduce their reliance on signings. He added: "When you are a young boy from Africa and you come into a football club like Man City and you have the chance to train everyday in the facilities like them it is something you dream about. I do not have any doubt that if you are young, talented and a hard worker and you have got these facilities you will have more chance of being successful."
City have spent four years drawing up plans, buying the land and cleaning it to remove the effects of industrial pollution. They hope to create at least 160 construction jobs and then 95 permanent positions, aiming to fill at least 70% of them with local applicants.
They are also giving £3 million towards local leisure facilities, with a swimming pool due to be built, and have donated 5.5 acres for community use, with a sixth-form college set to be constructed on a corner of the site.