Ten years ago this summer, Vincent Kompany joined Manchester City. Just one week after Vincent put pen to paper, His Highness Sheikh Mansour, through the Abu Dhabi United Group, agreed to the purchase of the Club.
One of the first things that Sheikh Mansour did in September 2008, was to address a letter to the fans in which he set out his vision for the Club under his stewardship; a vision which was to celebrate and respect Manchester City's rich heritage whilst focussing on building a bright future.
He had a clear sense of the elements required to deliver a sustainable and successful organisation on-and-off-the-pitch, and sought a strategy through which that vision could be realised.
At that point, Vincent and his teammates could not have known what successes were to come; nor could they have anticipated the teammates and facilities with whom and in which they would play and train, and the changes which were to be made at the Club and in the wider community.
Most of the developments visible today are the result of a carefully crafted strategy - one in which organic evolution has also been allowed to thrive - and I have come to be as proud of many of those evolutionary elements of the plan as I am of those which were meticulously planned in 2008.
It was not in the 2008 vision to have teams in six cities around the world, but the blueprint for sustainable growth that we created in Manchester enabled our expansion as City Football Group well beyond the UK, with Girona FC the latest club to join our growing family.
We have been able to transplant our playing style, our approach to youth development, our commercial know-how and, significantly, our City in the Community DNA to far flung reaches of the football world. We now have nearly 1,000 players in the City Football Group network playing and training in the beautiful football model and positively contributing to the development of football on five continents. Importantly we have also formed charities and foundations in New York and Melbourne and the Cityzens Giving programme which stretches to all four corners of the globe, empowering young people through football.
Infrastructure was always going to be a cornerstone of our long-term strategy, but we did not know at the beginning just how complementary the vision and leadership of Manchester City Council would be, nor how we would be able to come together as partners in the sports-led regeneration of East Manchester. As a result of that partnership, the economic and environmental outcomes from developments of the last ten years will be generational and we as a Club should be incredibly proud of the improved educational, health and sporting opportunities we have created in our community.
Ten years ago, the idea that 2018 would bring a fourth consecutive profitable year for Manchester City, may well have been rejected as fanciful by some commentators. That is the reality today as revenues once again reach record levels - breaking through the £500m barrier for the first time - whilst more than 400 male and female players train and play in world-class facilities and emerging homegrown young talent begin to make their mark. We have not diverted in any way from our strategy for on-field success within a commercially and financially sustainable organisation.
The past decade has also seen the voices of our fans helping to significantly shape our development. There are obvious examples such as the design of our crest, the choosing of our international community programmes, even the road names within our City Football Academy and, most recently, the kit for next year’s 125th anniversary celebration. Less overt, but hopefully equally obviously, we have remained true to Sheikh Mansour’s promise to “ensure that Manchester City loses none of its role in Manchester beyond football” and “continue[s] to contribute to the community it represents.”
In May, Vincent Kompany lifted our third Premier League trophy, having three months earlier celebrated the third League Cup of his City-career. He was standing alongside 17-year-old Phil Foden who joined the Club at eight years old in 2009. The men’s team scored 100 points and 106 goals, breaking more than 20 long-standing club and league records as they went. The trophy was lifted in the Etihad Stadium, connected by a pedestrian bridge to the City Football Academy, both sitting on the 200-acre Etihad Campus. A lot really has happened in the last decade.
The 2017-18 season will go down in history because of the incredible football we all witnessed, and we are filled with an extraordinary sense of pride in the hard work of Pep Guardiola, the players, and the staff who work tirelessly to support them. Our aim is obviously to build on the achievements of the last year, and we know that it takes a tremendous combination of factors and effort to continuously achieve success at this level.
Despite all of the wonderful developments and a truly incredible season, we will always strive for more. Our journey is not complete and we have more targets to fulfil. There should be no doubt that we are looking forward to the challenges of the new season and those beyond it with equal commitment and determination to the ten seasons that came before.
Next year, we will celebrate 125 years since the foundation of Manchester City Football Club, and 30 years of Manchester City having an affiliated women’s team. These milestones, to which we look forward and will be honoured to mark, serve as a useful reminder that we are all stewards of a club that has existed through multiple lifetimes and we must all remain as committed as ever to ensuring that it continues to grow and evolve for multiple generations of future fans to enjoy.
Khaldoon Al Mubarak