City’s new youth development and first team training centre – the City Football Academy (CFA) – was opened today, December 8, by former manager and captain, Tony Book.
The unveiling of the 80-acre regenerated brownfield site, adjacent to the Etihad Stadium and part of the wider 200 acres known as the Etihad Campus, was overseen by Club Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and the Right Honourable George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer during his visit to the city.
Prior to the opening event, the Chancellor was given a guided tour of the Academy by Chairman Al Mubarak during which he was introduced to leaders of three local businesses that provided central services and products during the construction of the site. Proceedings also included the unveiling of Etihad Avenue, the central street of the CFA and named after the primary partner of the Etihad Campus, Etihad Airways.
Mr Osborne also watched a lesson of the City under 12’s team, in one of the Academy classrooms, spending time chatting to a number of the students, after which he watched City’s first team train as they prepared for their forthcoming Champions League match against Roma.
The final part of the tour saw the Chancellor visit the First Team building where he viewed a wide range of facilities, with the tour ending in the circular first team dressing room.
Speaking of his visit, the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said:
I am a strong believer in improving sporting facilities for young people, which is why I am delighted to oversee the opening of the City Football Academy today. The partnership between Abu Dhabi United Group and Manchester City Council is a benchmark for public private partnership, driving investment into the North of England and developing projects where business and the community benefit.
Club Chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, added:
At the outset of his ownership, back in Autumn 2008, His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, set out his vision for the future of Manchester City Football Club. He pledged to bring success on the field and to nurture young talent whilst at the same time remaining proudly rooted to the community in which it resided.
The cornerstone of the future, was a vision for youth development and sustainability; a vision to educate talented young footballers on and off the pitch and to do so in a facility supported by the best coaches and coaching programmes. The vision was underpinned by an unwavering commitment to the regeneration of the local area in both economic and environmental terms.
Today marks the end of six years of extensive research, development and construction involving many, many people. It also marks the beginning of a responsibility to deliver against the opportunities that this Academy now creates for us.
The CFA – research and planning for which began at the outset of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed’s ownership of the Club back in 2008 – is home to all of Manchester City FC’s football teams of both genders and all age groups. Two thirds of the 16.5 pitches on site are dedicated to the youth talent and the wider development of the young players is supported by tailored coaching and education facilities, medical and sports science services, sleeping accommodation and parents’ facilities. Such is the attention to detail that there are three different grass surfaces in operation – Desso, RouteZone and GrassMaster, on which training can be alternated to suit the surfaces of different opponents.
The CFA also accommodates the majority of Manchester-based staff in one connected operational base and is a global headquarters for those in the wider City Football family, which now includes sister clubs New York City FC, Melbourne City FC and Yokohama Marinos.
The project, which has the overwhelming support of the local community, was underpinned by ambitious local recruitment and supply chain targets both of which were achieved, significantly up-skilling the local community and making a positive economic impact on the surrounding area.
The CFA also reached the highest possible environmental standards, achieving the Gold standard under LEED guidelines, with low carbon, low water and low waste measures being employed to minimise impact on the environment and encourage local bio diversity. The remediation alone, of the 80-acre site by the Club, had a positive environmental impact, turning a vast tract of land, polluted by years of heavy industrial use into clean terrain, and some 2,000 trees were planted on and around the site.
The Club enjoys a long-standing and mutually supportive relationship with Manchester City Council and the Greater Manchester Community. Consistent with this, and in addition to the Club’s existing and on-going City in the Community Scheme which touches 45,000 lives a year with 400,000 individual contacts, the Club donated 5.5 acres of remediated land within the CFA on which the Connell sixth form college was built and a pitch for use by the local community.
The Club also donated GBP£3m to the creation of public swimming facilities in the local East Manchester Leisure centre and made the bridge, connecting the City Football Academy to the Etihad Stadium, a public right of way for use by its fans and the wider community.