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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Brian Marwood: Manchester City focused on global expansion after 10 years of rapid growth under Abu Dhabi ownership

Manchester City’s Football Administration Officer reflects on the past decade and outlines the club's ambitions for the future

Brian Marwood, left, alongside England manager Gareth Southgate. Getty Images
Brian Marwood, left, alongside England manager Gareth Southgate. Getty Images

“If someone had been able to project what is happening now nine or 10 years ago, I would have said yes, we are happy,” said Brian Marwood.

Manchester City’s Football Administration Officer was reflecting on the last decade and the next at a much-changed club.

“I think we are very much in a good place. The first team have won three league titles, one FA Cup, three League Cups, two Community Shields and [have a] regular place in Champions League football so if you were asking yourself 10 years ago ‘would you accept that in 10 years’ time?’, you would probably say yes, you would. But when we look back and say: ‘Could we have done better in the Champions League?’ Yep, we could. Could we have won another league title? Yes, we could.”

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If he begins by answering about the men’s first team – and off the field, he cites the creation of the women’s team, the academy and a role as a community club – there is a reason. “With any strategy, there is a short term, medium term and a long term,” said Marwood, who joined City in 2009. “The short term, clearly we had to get the first team right.”

As he admits, recruits came for two reasons. “One was the finance and the other was a vision, we were selling them a story: come and create history,” he explained. “Some bought into that and some didn’t, some purely bought into the finance. Now the dynamic of that has changed and other clubs are spending more than we are on salary and transfer fees.”

Marwood believes City have a different appeal now, underlining a theme of Pep Guardiola’s. “I think this is unique,” he added. “We want people to really come for the right reasons, to immerse themselves in the culture of this.”

That sense of a shared culture is important. Marwood cited the career of Patrick Vieira, the former New York City manager who had four roles in the City Football Group, as he suggested future vacancies could be filled by those who have developed in City’s global family.

“I believe in succession planning,” said 58-year-old Marwood, who had a 15-year career as a footballer than included spells at Hull City, Sheffield Wednesday and Arsenal. “I believe if you have been through this process, this system, I think it helps you to integrate far greater than coming in from the outside.”

He has a worldwide focus which should expand in the next decade. “We are looking at more clubs,” he confirmed. “There is a hunger, there is a desire, there is an ambition to do more, to create these types of environments everywhere in the world. I think 2012, 2013 we started to drive that forward.

"My focus now is primarily to create and develop the new clubs in the group and I think that New York was a blank piece of paper so to start a football club from that basis was quite exciting.”

It is about starting from scratch, but also building from foundations in Manchester. The capacity of the Etihad Stadium was raised to 55,000 in 2015 and Marwood said: “We want to grow the fanbase. We have expanded the stadium and perhaps somewhere down the line we may consider doing that again if we feel there is a requirement. I think there will be a lot of good news stories in the next 10 years.”

Yet, for all the ambitious plans off the field and in various continents, the best could come on the field in Europe.

“History will tell you with the great sides that have become Champions League winners,” said Marwood, whose previous roles included marketing manager for Nike. “They are regarded as then another step above being just domestic winners so of course that is an ambition.”

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