x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

A new City emerges

Manchester City's win in the Premier League is more than just a victory for football fans but is also a boon for the underprivileged in the city

After claiming their second Barclays Premier League title at a rain-soaked Etihad Stadium on Sunday afternoon, players and officials from Manchester City will arrive in sun-drenched Abu Dhabi this morning ahead of their Thursday night friendly match in Al Ain.

Sceptics of the Manchester club, which is owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, point to City’s enormous investment in player acquisition and a wage bill that is reputed to be the highest in world sport, to suggest the club has bought success rather than earned it. The doubters also believe that City’s triumphs are built on sand.

The truth is somewhat different. For one thing, success can rarely be guaranteed on a football field, no matter how much money you throw at it. But, as well as investing in the first-team, City have poured money into long-term youth development and community programmes. Later this year the club will open the first phase of its Etihad Campus, a 32-hectacre site that is breathing new life and jobs into an area of Manchester that, little more than a decade ago, was a decaying reminder of economic decline. It is, in short, a regeneration project that is transforming the fortunes of a community just as dramatically as City’s on-pitch revolution.