City academy build set to begin
Manchester City are ready to begin work on their vast new state-of-the-art academy and training ground.
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With an 80-acre site adjacent to the Etihad Stadium now all but cleared, the Barclays Premier League champions have announced the appointment of BAM Construction as their building partner for the project.
The multi-million pound City Football Academy, which should be completed for the 2014-15 season, will be one of the most impressive facilities in world sport.
Among other things, the complex will comprise 16.5 football pitches - the half pitch is for goalkeeper training - which include a 7,000-capacity stadium for youth level matches.
There will also be a first-team building with gym and medical facilities.
All the club's senior and youth teams will be based there, moving from the current Carrington and Platt Lane locations, with other staff at the main stadium linked by a new footbridge.
City will also strengthen links to the local community through a project which will regenerate a large part of east Manchester.
The club have donated a 5.5-acre portion of the site for the building of a new sixth form college while a new leisure centre, including swimming pool, is also planned.
The club first started planning for the new complex in 2008, soon after their takeover by Sheikh Mansour.
Plans were made public a year ago but the club have now released new images, including a computer-generated 'fly-through' of how the site will look, and statistics.
These reveal the project has 98 per cent support of the local community and that the preparatory work on the land over the past year has already created 49 jobs.
A minimum of 160 more posts will be available during construction and 95 permanent positions will eventually be created.
The club have a 70 per cent minimum local recruitment target and have stressed they intend for 70 per cent of supplies to come from local sources.
Ferran Soriano, the club's recently-appointed chief executive, said: "Today is an extremely important day for the future of Manchester City Football Club.
"The development of young and homegrown 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.
"We are now in a position, after four years of research and planning, to execute that strategy and we are delighted to join with BAM who will play a large part in helping us to do so."
The complex will transform an area of polluted industrial wasteland and much thought has been given to its own environmental impact.
Around 2,000 trees will be planted and all rain water within its boundaries will be collected in huge underground tanks to be used elsewhere on site.
Former City and Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira, now the club's football development executive said, said: "It is a long-term commitment from the football club and I am really excited about it because once you see the pictures then you can't wait for the work to start.
"I think the club are creating something fantastic because when you are a footballer you want to develop yourself and you are looking for the best facilities to do so.
"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.
"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 around the project.
"That is why I believe it is the best project around in all sports."