If you can't buy more talent, just grow your own at home

Updated: 2011-09-21 07:52

(China Daily)

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MANCHESTER, England - Big-spending Manchester City aims to develop home-grown talent as it seeks to conform to European financial fair play rules, and to that end it submitted plans on Monday for a training center it believes will be the best in the world.

Since being taken over by Sheikh Mansour three years ago, City has spent more than 600 million pounds ($947 million) on building a team that is among the favorites for the Premier League title.

That level of spending is unsustainable in the long-term though, the club says, and would also be difficult under European governing body UEFA's new financial fair play rules that aim to stop reckless spending on wages and transfer fees.

City believes the proposed training complex near its Etihad Stadium will be better than those such as AC Milan's renowned Milanello and will produce top players for club and country.

"We know that youth development has to be at the heart of this club. Investment in the transfer market has helped us reach a certain level; to stay there will take investment in player development, welfare and top-class facilities," chief football operations officer Brian Marwood told reporters.

"Everybody is getting quite concerned about financial fair play, it's not just us. We are quite comfortable in terms of the work we have done to date, we know we still have a huge amount of work still to do before we conform.

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

The rules say spending cannot exceed revenue from TV rights, gate receipts, competition prize money and sponsorship. Clubs that do not conform face expulsion from European competition.

Having just embarked on its first campaign in the elite Champions League, the last thing City want is to fall afoul of those rules.

Spending on infrastructure and youth development do not count as expenditures under the regulations.

City could not give details of the cost of the project which includes a 7,000-seat stadium for youth matches, 15 full-size pitches and accommodations on an 80-acre site.

It submitted the plans to the city council on Monday and said it expected to get a decision by the end of the year. The club is hopeful of getting the green light as the project includes commitments to providing community facilities.

Project consultant Nick Smith, who said City had done its research at clubs like Barcelona and Arsenal as well as training centers for non-soccer clubs such as the LA Lakers and New York Giants, added it would be "the world's best training facility."

Marwood said that seeing how many home-grown players European champions Barcelona had fielded in May's Champions League final had given City something to aspire to.

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