The world's greatest training ground

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Football News

In football, title-winning amibitions are a luxury enjoyed by those with deep pockets, or at least those that pretend to.

In a game as saturated by money as football, having deeper pockets than your rivals can be a powerful stimulant. And Manchester City boast the deepest of all.

Sheikh Mansour's personal wealth may originate in Abu Dhabi, but it stands to personally effect the lives of thousands in the east of Manchester.

For the Premier League champions have unveiled plans to build the grandest training ground the world has ever seen.

City's executives have trawled the best training centres across the globe, taking trips to La Masia in Barcelona, and to NBA basketball and NFL facilities in the USA, all in the name of research.

Patrick Vieira, City's football development executive, led the touring party across the world, visiting more than 25 academies and complexes.

"What I find really exciting about the project is that before designing the facilities, they have been to the football world, the basketball world and the NFL world," said Vieira.

"I believe it is the best project in all of sport because people have travelled the world to capture the best in every sport and bring it here."

The result should be a £200m football training temple. Work is due to begin on the 80-acre site in the next few days, and City hope to have it up and running in two years time. The construction alone should provide jobs for hundreds of people in the local community, and City have pledged £3m for a new community swimming pool and donated 5 1/2 acres for a new sixth form.

Both the altruism and the no-expense-spared facility are bankrolled by the Abu Dhabi cash, but they will not affect City's ability to meet impending Financial Fair Play regulations - the training ground will fall under the 'investment' exception.

All told, 400 youth team players, plus the City first team will be catered for at the site.

For the youngsters, a 200-pupil capacity classroom will allow the 'next Messi' to swat up on his maths before donning his boots, and there will be on-site accommodation for junior and senior players - should Vincent Kompany and co fancy a sleepover.

The 80 acres will also include 16 full-size pitches, including one indoor, and a 7,000 capacity stadium for youth and reserve team matches.

But, for £200m you have to expect one or two little extravagances thrown in, and City have not disappointed.

Linking the Etihad Stadium to the training complex a few hundred metres away will be a huge pedestrian walkway - a bridge spanning the two pillars of City's grand designs.

Now for the James Bond feature. One of the 16 pitches will include technology enabling City's groundsman to change the grass on the surface so it matches the pitch City play their next away fixture on.

In the search for success, City hope these small advantages will give them the edge in Premier League title races to come.

While the first phase of the Blue revolution involved throwing money at the playing squad - to the tune of half a billion pounds - Roberto Mancini's side seem to have moved into the second phase - building a legacy for the future.

FFP will start biting soon, it already has for some clubs, and it makes sense to create an infrastructure conducive to self-sufficiency.

Roman Abramovich did something similar at Chelsea after his initial splurge on the first-team squad, and Manchester United and Arsenal already have world-leading academies. City are playing catch-up, but they have the ability to bridge the gap, and fast.

Welcome to the billion-pound game.

Manchester City
Premier League
Vincent Kompany
Patrick Vieira
Patrick Vieira

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