Gary Neville MIPIM p.PNW

Neville sent a message to prospective new owners of Manchester United. Credit: PNW

MIPIM | Neville calls for United’s next owner to ‘do what Man City did’ 

MIPIM coverage sponsored by TogetherWhile the Glazer family assesses bids for Manchester United FC, the club’s former captain has laid down a challenge to whoever takes over: regenerate the area around Old Trafford stadium. 

Speaking at MIPIM, Gary Neville praised the work of Manchester City FC’s owners in redeveloping large areas of East Manchester and said he expected Manchester United’s new owner to take a similar approach. 

“They invested in an area that needed it,” he said. “It was an area nobody ever really went before and that takes real courage,” he said. 

“If you said to any developer in Manchester in 2007, invest a billion pounds in this area over the next 10 years, they wouldn’t be putting their hand up.” 

Since taking over the club, Manchester City’s owner, Abu Dhabi United Group, has developed a new training ground for the club as well as a significant amount of housing in East Manchester through Manchester Life joint venture with the city council. 

The Co-op Live arena is currently under construction, while plans were recently unveiled to expand the Etihad Stadium and develop a fan park. 

At Manchester United, the story is very different, according to Neville. 

“If I stand on the top of my hotel [Hotel Football located next to Old Trafford], and look towards MediaCity, it is amazing. If I look over to Manchester it is amazing.  

“If I look around to the area [the Glazers own] it is terrible.” 

In regeneration and real estate terms, United has “stagnated”, Neville said. It is not just about the stadium, he also criticised the Glazers’ lack of vision and apparent unwillingness to capitalise on opportunities for development around Old Trafford. 

“The car parks are seen as some sort of monument. They value these 6,000 spaces rather than just building a few multi-storeys and regenerating the area,” he said. 

“We need someone to buy the club and do basically what Manchester City have done.” 

To replicate what Manchester City did in East Manchester around Old Trafford would require a great deal of capital. Perhaps the kind of capital only a nation-state could provide. 

A bid is on the table from a group of Qatari investors headed by former Prime Minister Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani. 

Question marks over Qatar’s human rights record lingered over the recent World Cup and, while Neville has a strict list of criteria he would like any new owner to meet, he is not closed to the idea of state-backed involvement. 

His criteria includes an owner that would eschew dividends, not saddle the club with debt, and invest in the ground and surrounding area. 

“All those things are really important to me,” he told Place North West. “Whoever buys it has got to win on the pitch and win off the pitch. 

“Whether that be [rival bidder, Ineos’s] Jim Ratcliffe, who’s a local businessman, or whether it be Qatar, or the American investment group, Elliott, football has become an engine in this country for global investment and we’ve got to get our heads around that.” 

Place North West MIPIM 2023 coverage is sponsored by Together.

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Oh Gary, why do you think you are the oracle on everything? Stick to being a pundit.

By Anon

Says the man who took 14 years to get St Michael’s off the ground.

By Simon

Good idea building MSCP’s on land Man Utd own. Make sure they use Concretene, failing that construct them out of Glulam, and put Solar PV canopies on the top levels.

By Philip Smith-Lawrence

Valencia has been taken to brink of relegation La Liga by Gary investment partner.

By Anonymous

He not wrong. Eastlands area has transformed incredibly since the commonwealth stadium was taken over by city. So much built around there. They have worked with the council over the years to pump huge investment in the whole area. Get that for Old Trafford and it’s not just the team that should improve. Can’t wait!

By Rednblue

Might not necessarily agree with him all the time, but at least he’s proactive and passionate about his city. Some would consider the merging of sport (or anything else for that matter) and development a key to success that other cities can only dream about. Half the time people are complaining that locals (or in this case Greater Mancunians) don’t have enough input into how cities are developed.
It’s only his opinion anyway – nobody makes you read this website or watch the videos.

By Anonymous

St Michaels coming on now. Will look excellent when completed. Agree that the investment around Old Trafford has been lacking compared to the city centre or around Eastlands. Looks like that is shortly to be rectified. Great news for everyone.

By Anonymous

Much of MCFC’s investment in the wider area around Eastlands has been facilitated by public money, by way of loans and grants from local, regional and central government. And EU. Not all from the pocket of MCFC’s owners by any means…


Indeed it has, and that’s called investment, working closely with council but utilising significant private money. That’s just what we need for Old Trafford .

By Anonymous

Yep he’s right on the investment front . That combination of private equity and public funding has worked wonders for that part of East Manchester. Worth replicating.

By Tariq

As I’m sure Gary knows, there is a huge difference between what was a complete wasteland around the old Bradford colliery/gasworks and what is a bit of a malaise between the success stories of Salford Quays and inner Manchester suburbs like Chorlton.

Yes there’s certainly lot things that could be done better, and Trafford Council are in the spotlight there – as recent PW stories have proven.

By Anonymous

@anon. “stick to football” commenters really wind me up. He has the same right to comment as you do. Presumably what you mean is “stick to football because I disagree with your other views”

By Levelling Up Manager

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