I'll admit just before doing this I was like a 5 year old on Christmas eve having just found his parent's secret stash of Christmas presents. But what got me so exited? I know for a fact fans of other teams wont have reacted to this news with the same child-like enthusiasm as I did, and maybe some City fans wont have either but here it is.
The Manchester Evening News had an article today describing part of City's plans for the newly named Etihad Campus (what used to be SportCity and a large stretch of land included). Now I know we had all heard bits and pieces of what was going to happen but we're now beginning to see those same pieces of the jigsaw come together.
Last season saw the performance of City on the pitch finally come together in winning the FA Cup and finishing 3rd in the league. Today we get a proper look at how City are building for the future.
City have today unveiled their plans for a new training complex. Yes we expected this already as it's been in the pipeline for the last 2 years, but now we're privy to a little more detail on what it will be included in this part of the project.
A view of the Etihad Stadium from what part of the Etihad Campus currently looks like
The facilities will include 16 pitches for the 1st team, EDS, and Academy players to use. Along with these will be included a 7000-seater stadium for the youth and EDS teams which will also be opened up for public use.
It doesn't stop there, oh no, the plans also include accommodation and educational facilities for the Academy and EDS players aged 8-18. This is as well as dedicated pitches, accommodation, a gym and rehab centre for the 1st team. It is believed that a section of the complex, not only the stadium, will also be open to the public.
At this moment in time the Academy is at Platt Lane, and the EDS train at Carrington along with the 1st team. These plans will bring them all together in one training complex and will vastly improve the Club's ability to nurture and develop young and talented players in the future. There is no doubt that the facilities will match if not better those used by the best clubs around the globe.
In fact officials and representatives from City have travelled to the best youth and training set ups around the world in order to come up with what is touted to become the world's best training complex. Just look at what has been happening in the UAE in recent times, they don't do things by half do they? The same can certainly be said of Sheikh Mansour and his investment in City to date so why should that change now?
City's Academy has already produced no less than 30 players who have made a first team appearance in its 13 year existence. Considering how basic the facilities were until recently that's an outstanding number of players. Many are still plying their trade in the the Premier League or lower leagues, and some are still with City fighting for silverware.
Academy graduates Shaun Wright-Phillips and Micah Richards at the last home game of the season
Something that hasn't been confirmed yet, but is expected, is the donation of over 5 acres of land to be used for the community and will create what has been described in the past as a significant number of jobs. I'm sure the CitC scheme will have some plans to work with Manchester City Council to improve the local community in that area; Something Patrick Vieira no doubt has an interest in getting involved with.
Today's announcement is just another in a string of announcements since the takeover in 2008 that have cemented Sheikh Mansour's intention of long term investment and his vision for City when he first took over. Many fans of other teams, especially a certain one which I wont mention (but we all know who they are) were quick to say "When the Arabs get bored in two years you'll be in trouble" but this is yet another smack in the gob for them.
City's owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak
What other owners have done what Sheikh Mansour has done and continues to do? What other football club is regenerating 80 acres of land that will not only benefit the club but put a significant contribution back into the community in which it stands? What football club signs a sponsorship deal that not only benefits themselves but actually generates £20m for the local council? Can anyone actually name another club like this? Answers on a postcard (or just a comment at the bottom will do) if you can think of one.
On a side note to this, and as I have already mentioned in a previous blog, the Etihad sponsorship deal looks ever more reasonable when you take into consideration that whenever this huge regeneration project is spoken of Etihad will be mentioned along with it. That is why Etihad were willing to spend so much on the deal.
These proposals have already been accepted by the council but have yet to be submitted to the public. This will happen from Tuesday onwards and in all honesty how can anyone seriously object to any of it? Can anyone honestly object to City and the council creating jobs and funds for the community? No one in their right mind could anyway. Surely it could only be someone bitter about their club having money drained out of it by their owners would stoop so low as to jest and jibe at something like this. Over to you lot at Trafford Friendship, Alliance, Togetherness it is then.
For more detail on the newly announced plans visit http://www.mcfc.co.uk/News/Club-news/2011/July/Etihad-Campus-consultation-to-open