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Gary Neville

Gary Neville co-founder, Hotel Football
PROJECT: Hotel Football, Manchester, UK


Singapore-based real estate and investment company Rowsley – controlled by billionaire Peter Lim – has bought a 75 per cent stake in Manchester’s Hotel Football, the sport-themed hotel project driven by a quintet of Manchester United footballing legends.

In a statement released at the end of August, Rowsley announced that it would pay £29.1m (US$64.1m, E39.7m) to acquire a 75 per cent shareholding in each of the Hotel Football-related businesses – the 133-bedroom hotel; Cafe Football, a 120-seat restaurant in east London; and GG Collections, the hotel management company that manages Hotel Football and Cafe Football.

Hotel Football is the brainchild of five members of Manchester United’s famed ‘Class of 92’ group of players – Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville.

The deal further strengthens the business ties between Singaporean Lim and the former Man Utd players. The entrepreneur and the five players already jointly own Salford City Football Club, a semi-professional outfit which the owners hope to steer into the Football League within the next five years.

The 8,000sq m (86,111sq ft) Hotel Football was designed by AEW Architects and features its own rooftop football pitch.

According to Rowsley CEO Lock Wai Han, the deal will pave the way for the company’s entry into the hotel real estate and hotel management business.

“Our strategy is to develop and acquire good hotels in choice locations,” said Wai Han.

“In hotel management, we aim to build a globally-recognised brand through management contracts with the group’s hotels, as well as those outside the group. Hotel Football has been very well received since it opened for business in March and we look forward to building on its early success.”

Gary Neville added: “This is an exciting opportunity for Hotel Football and the city of Manchester.

“To be able to use and harness Rowsley’s enormous knowledge and expertise is unbelievable. When we dreamt of building Hotel Football, we knew exactly what we wanted it to be: a unique place where like-minded individuals could gather and Old Trafford Supporters Club was part of that vision.

“However we also knew that we would need a restructure within the company in order to facilitate the growth in our hospitality and leisure interests,” he added.

Separately, Rowsley has also signed a partnership agreement with The Jackson’s Row Development Partnership – which comprises Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs; Manchester City Council and entrepreneur Brendan Flood, one of the owners of Burnley Football Club – to develop a major new mixed-use scheme in Manchester city centre.

The deal will see Rowsley invest £40m for a 75 per cent stake in the St Michael’s mixed-use development project in the centre of the northern city.

The £200m St Michael’s project will comprise a five-star hotel, luxury apartments, prime office space as well as restaurants and bars on a 0.58ha site. Beijing Construction Engineering Group will own 21 per cent of the project and construction is expected to begin in the second half of 2016 with an opening slated for 2019.

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