Man City aim to follow Barca academy

Manchester City say they are aiming to emulate Barcelona on and off the pitch after announcing detailed plans for a giant new training complex.

The City team rallying around their new star.

The 80-acre scheme is also part of City's plans to conform with UEFA's financial fair play regulations - investment in training facilities is exempt from the rules stating clubs can only spend what they earn.

City's chief football operations officer Brian Marwood highlighted Barcelona having eight home-grown players in their Champions League final line-up as something the club aspire to.

Marwood said the club would always continue to buy players from all over the world - they have spent nearly £400million in the last three years alone - but will now put much more emphasis on developing their own in order to conform with the UEFA rules.

He told Press Association Sport: "Everybody is getting quite concerned about financial fair play, and rightly so. But it's not just us, everybody is looking at us but there are a lot of other football clubs looking very carefully at their own situation.

"We're quite comfortable in terms of the work we have done to date, we know that we have still got a huge amount of work still to do before we conform, and this is part of that process.

"To develop your own home-grown talent is a big part of what we do.

"If you look a Barcelona, they had eight home-grown players playing in the Champions League final which is an incredible achievement and that is something that is an ambition for our football club.

"This could be the most important investment the club has ever made under its new ownership."

The sponsorship deal with Etihad announced last month, for around £400million, will help fund the complex which will be known as the Etihad campus.

"That's part of the whole Etihad partnership with Manchester City," added Marwood. "The stadium is now the Etihad Stadium and the new training facility will have a heavily-involved Etihad presence as well."

The cost of the complex - joined to their stadium in east Manchester via a bridge - has yet to be finalised, but the plans submitted on Monday for planning approval are for a 7,000-seat mini-stadium, 15 full-size pitches, a gym, medical centre and sleeping accommodation for 72 senior and youth players.

The £100million national football centre in Burton is on a similar scale - but without the mini-stadium or bridge.

Marwood admitted that the current rate of spending on players was unsustainable.

He said: "There will always be a balance in terms of players you will purchase and players you will bring to the club. We've had an accelerated investment for the last three years, we have probably crammed 10 years work into three.

"But we believe now that we have a squad of players that can compete at every level.

"I think that we all believe as a club that that is not sustainable.

"Therefore while we have had a very good record of producing young players at this club I think what we are trying to do is enhance that and produce young players that are good enough to play in the Champions League.

"To do that we need new facilities and we need to develop a different in way in how we are developing players technically and from a life skills point of view.

"This was something identified by the owners from day one and that if we were to take the club to the next level this is something that would have to change."

The development has been planned for three years during which City sent officials to Arsenal, Barcelona and Ajax, as well as other sports centres including the New York Giants, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and the Australian Institute of Sport to look at their operations.

"If you are looking at bench-marking clubs that are developing young talent Arsenal are up there, as are Barcelona. So we went to those clubs and also to Ajax," added Marwood.

"It's not just football - other sports have shown how they can develop high-class performers and there are aspects of what they do that we need to incorporate as well."

Marwood said an overall cost of the development had yet to be clarified. City have already bought most of the land, much of which is polluted by past industries, and are in the process of cleaning it.

The club have also promised to provide 5.5acres for community use, including a sixth form college, and contribute towards a new public swimming pool.

Meanwhile, Marwood insisted it was a "huge, emotional, sad day" when former chief executive Garry Cook left the club.

Cook resigned earlier this month after an internal investigation following an offensive email sent to the mother of defender Nedum Onuoha.

Marwood told Sky Sports News: "It was a huge, emotional, sad day when his resignation was announced but the one thing he'd always hope for everybody is that we maintain the work he took on with the owners for the last three years.

"As the chairman [Khaldoon al-Mubarak] has always said he'll always be welcomed back at this club and will always have a big place in what has transpired at this club in the last three years."

As for his replacement, the 51-year-old added on the BBC Sport website: "It will take as long as it needs to get the right person.

"That search will be worldwide and we will have somebody that will take forward the great work that has been carried out."



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