The English football club Manchester City is to try to marry its success on the field with leadership on corporate responsibility.
The club, which recently won the Premier League, has made social and environmental issues a key part of plans for a new football academy in the Openshaw West area of Manchester.
The proposed development on around 80 acres of brownfield land near the club’s stadium has been submitted after a six-week period of public consultation with local residents and fans. It includes proposals to create a 'major wildlife habitat' in the area, collect rainwater, and set up solar power.
The club will reserve up to 5.5 acres of the site for community use and will make a financial contribution towards proposed local authority leisure facilities in the area, which could include the creation of a swimming pool and educational facilities.
Manchester City’s head of corporate responsibility, Peter Bradshaw, said the aim was for the site to be a low carbon, low water and low waste development that will ‘minimise impacts on the environment and encourage local biodiversity’.
The plan would be to include ‘instant greenery’ in the shape of 6,000 trees newly planted trees and a large area of hedges. There would also be huge underground water tanks that will store 150,000 litres of rainwater for watering of football pitches, toilet flushes, and general cleaning - plus plans to use solar panels, wind turbines, and geothermal power.
In addition, the club has said it will commit to use local people for around 70 per cent of the estimated 160 construction jobs that would be created during building work, and to reserve up to 80 per cent of the subsequent permanent employment for up to 90 people for local residents. It has also pledged local sourcing of materials, equipment and services at the proposed site.
Manchester City has had a corporate social responsibility strategy for several years and produced its first CR report in late 2010. It is also a member of Business in the Community, which says the club ‘now has one of the strongest and most wide-ranging [football] community programmes in Europe’, reaching around 370,000 people a year.
Among projects initiated under the City in the Community programme, the club supports three after-school study support centres, a community leisure centre, and a range of schools enterprise projects. On the environment front, it has reduced its waste to landfill year on year since 2003 by an average of 35% per year.