Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, today (Monday 8th December) opened the new Manchester City Football Academy, the centrepiece of a £200 million city regeneration project.
The Chancellor also used the opening to announce a £10 million annual government investment into improving grassroots football focused on local community multi-sport
facilities and football coaching.
The City Football Academy lies at the centre of an 80 acre regeneration project in Eastern Manchester, funded by the Abu Dhabi United Group and in partnership with Manchester City Council.
The group, owner of Manchester City Football Club, has spent £50 million to clean and redevelop polluted, disused former industrial land adjacent to the Etihad Stadium, to create the ‘Etihad Campus’, a state of the art training facility, with education, sports and leisure facilities for community use.
The £200 million project is supporting the local economy, drawing the majority of its contractors, materials and supply chain from the region.
The new football academy is the ‘most complete’ youth football training facility in the world, with 16 pitches and facilities including a gym, medical centre, rehab clinic, classrooms and accommodation blocks.
The academy has capacity for over 450 students, 75% of whom come from the local community. These talented young players will experience the very best coaching on state of the art indoor and outdoor pitches.
Students spend between 8 and 14 hours per week at the academy, learning the skills of football both on and off the pitch. As this has to be balanced alongside each child’s normal schooling life, the academy provides classroom facilities and provides funding for 12 to 16 year old players to attend an independent school that allows flexibility for training and extra attention to ensure that students not only keep up with their school work but perform above the national average.
Manchester will have its grassroots football facilities improved further as the Chancellor confirmed it would be one of the cities gaining new ‘football hubs’ through £10 million annual funding to develop footballing talent with new facilities and coaching.
Following the Football Association report into the future of English football which cited the need for more artificial football pitches and more quality coaches to develop grassroots English football, the government has dedicated £8 million of funding per year, for 5 years, toward 150 multi-sport hubs across 30 cities.
In addition, a further £2 million per year, for 5 years, will support 25 new coach educators that can help triple the number of high level coaches nationally and a bursary scheme to fund qualifications, with specific targets for female coaches and coaches from a BAME background.
The government investment will be matched by the Football Association alongside further contributions from other partners such as the Premier League and Football League clubs and Local Authorities with a shared ambition for over £200 million of total funding.
The 150 ‘football hubs’ across English cities will double the number of third generation artificial grass pitches, enabling over 3,500 community sports matches to be played per week. Funding for the scheme will start from 2015 to 2016.
The Chancellor, 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 Training 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.
Building infrastructure that supports participation in sport is an important part of government’s responsibility to support a healthier and more active society. This is why, from next year, we will invest £10 million every year in sports pitches and coaching to ensure that our children have the high-quality facilities they need to develop their sporting talents.
The Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, added:
Investing in building state-of-the-art 3G pitches up and down the country is a real boost to grassroots sport.
These all-weather facilities will not only mean that people can play football all-year round but are great for talent development due to the true, flat playing surface.
If we strengthen the game at the grassroots and increase the number of coaches, it will only help the England team in future World Cups and European Championships.
Chairman of Manchester City Football Club, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, said:
We always intended that the City Football Academy be a catalyst for the creation of talent and opportunity.
Our aim is to see young footballers realise their full potential both on and off the field.
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 we have created for ourselves.
The Chancellor’s announcement today is both fitting and gratifying. It represents an investment in both Manchester and in football, two things which we strongly believe in.
Football Association Chairman, Greg Dyke, said:
I am delighted that the government has shown its support for the England Commission’s drive to significantly improve grassroots football facilities and coaching.
The best quality coaches working on the best quality facilities will really help us to deliver a transformation in player and coach development across English football. This improvement is vital to the nation’s shared ambition of future England team success.
I would like to thank the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for their personal backing, the DCMS and Sport England for their continued support, and all our other key partners including Local Authorities, the Premier League and Football League.
Significantly improving our grassroots football infrastructure is vital. Everyone playing the game at every level deserves the best opportunity to reach their potential.
Today’s announcement will take us a long way forward to achieving our goals.
Premier League Chief Executive, Richard Scudamore, said:
The Premier League has a longstanding commitment to investing in facilities for the grassroots game, using a significant amount of the income we earn from selling our broadcast rights.
Building on that commitment, we will work closely with the government, the FA and our clubs to make these new local partnerships a success.
Good coaching on good pitches is the foundation of good football, whether it’s people playing for fun or talented youngsters developing their skills for the future and so the whole of football will benefit.