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Gary Neville: 'Hotel Football Makes Me Nervous'

Jill Burdett chats to the former-United star ahead of the launch of his new Old Trafford hotel

Written by . Published on January 19th 2015.

Gary Neville: 'Hotel Football Makes Me Nervous'

“DO YOU think £40 is too much?”

Gary Neville is on the rooftop five-a-side pitch of his new Hotel Football and wants to know if forty quid for a match day barbecue and drinks up there is too much.

"The five of us have put a lot of ourselves into this space and we really want it to work."

I personally don’t. If you're a Red, watching Old Trafford fill up and hearing the noise and atmosphere mount as you share a few beers and food with family or some mates, then £40 seems reasonable enough.

Still, it’s a touchy subject. Neville has come in for a lot of stick about the pricing at the new four-star hotel (a recent Daily Mail article called it 'scandalous'), and he seems genuinely concerned that fans will be priced out.

He’s even more worried about the reaction when the hotel launches on 2 March.

”I feel nervous because I want people to like it," Neville told me during a project walkabout. "I've been getting some stick about the prices but all I say is don’t judge it until you've been.

Hotel FootballHotel Football

"We’re throwing the doors open to fans on 28 February and want them to come have a look and tell us what they think.

“Most importantly," Neville continued, "I want them to tell us what they think of the new Supporters Club. That’s what I’m most nervous about because that's their space.”

The Supporters Club is at canal level, it's a big room with an 80 metre long bar serving beer at £3.50 a pint and pies (price tbc). The club - open seven days a week - will be drenched in United memorabilia dragged from the cupboards of Neville and co-directors, brother Phil, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt.

“When I had my testimonial my commitment was to build a club for Manchester United supporters in Manchester, this is it," Neville told me. "The five of us have put a lot of ourselves into this space and we really want it to work. To be a place the fans are proud of.

“On match day there will be about 1000 fans in the hotel - 700 of them paying £1 to be in the Supporters Club. It will be pure United in here, you will be surrounded by red and it should be a great atmosphere.”

Still, there are only 28 match days a year and the key to its long term success will be attracting enough punters to make the hotel pay the other 337 days. While other football fans may pay a visit to the Supporters Club out of curiosity, it’s the upper floors where the business has to kick in.

Neville And Proctor Outside Hotel FootballGary Neville and Hotel MD Stuart Procter outside Hotel Football

At street level will be a Cafe Football, a brand already doing well in London with an informal atmosphere and an accessible menu of popular dishes with footballing puns (The Goal and Zola, anyone? - 'didn't he play for Chelsea?' -Ed.) They are already offering Xmas 2015 packages at £35 a head with accommodation at £80.

The hotel entrance is off Sir Matt Busby Way with a drop-off area, you walk into a double-height lobby framed by steel goal posts so large even Neville could have scored.

To the left a staircase takes you up to the first of two levels of conference/banqueting/meeting/events spaces. The stairs will have a timeline of key footballing moments following its ascent (I’m really hoping George Best will feature). On match days this will be a corporate hospitality all-you-can-eat and drink space.

Both events spaces are better than your average with lots of light, good bars and great views of the Old Trafford stadium which looks within touching distance.

Hotel Football - Better Inside Than OutHotel Football: better inside than out

It's six weeks until opening so while you get the feel of Cafe Football, stripped back with natural decor, and the hotel bedrooms with sharp colours, big beds, white linen (and a cuddly mascot), Neville is a perfectionist and was not happy for any photos just yet.

There are 130 bedrooms, the rate for which will vary like with any other hotel, on supply and demand. A Monday night in April, for example, starts from £85, but the same room on match day will cost you £250.

Stuart Procter, Managing Director of GG Hospitality (Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville's company), has been tasked with making all this happen. If anyone can he can.

He said: “We want it to become the easy place for people to meet. It’s accessible, there are 100 free car parking places, flexible spaces for work and great food and drink. We are bringing something new to the market.”

Hotel Football during constructionHotel Football during construction

There’s also lots of community stuff which should be applauded.

The majority of the 180 staff being recruited are from Greater Manchester and the company has developed strong training links with Trafford College. Three different schools each week will be able to use the Supporters Club and roof top pitch and Neville hopes they'll soon be able to offer educational programmes too.

“It’s a different space for the kids to learn in,” he explains. “I hope it inspires them.”

A United fan has created all the art work for the Supporters Club while students from Salford College provided the art for the bedrooms.

“Each piece has a plaque giving contact details for the artist," Neville explained. "If Guests like it and want to buy it they can contact the artist directly. We want to discover the next big name.”

Neville and Giggs during a previous Cafe Football cooking demoNeville and Giggs during a Cafe Football cooking demo

This is Neville’s first foray into hotels but a second is already on the horizon with plans to convert the former-Stocks Restaurant on Norfolk Street in Manchester city centre into a hotel and private club. Discussions with GG Hospitality are also on-going regarding the former-Bootle Street police station site.

Ignore the Twitter moaning about the price of a pint, Hotel Football is more about creating a different kind of hotel, a new business and delivering on a promise. 


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46 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Nick NameJanuary 19th 2015.

He may have riled supporters of rival clubs in his playing days, but I think almost everyone will agree he's been brilliant on Sky. And with what he is doing here plus other projects in central Manchester and also with Salford City Football Club, he has a real desire to give back to the area that gave him so much. And he puts an emphasis on giving young people a chance to get on and achieve. I like the way he gets the local colleges and schools linked to a scheme. Well done Gary. I'm sure it will be a big success and I look forward to having my first pint. Really hope we have some locally sourced ale, not the crap you get in the ground?!

6 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2015.

Awwww...giving back? Is he giving money away here and not making a profit or benefiting in other personal ways? The bloke kicked a leather bag around a field for a living and made far more than the mugs that paid to watch him [or any premiership team] would in several lifetimes.

ChrisJanuary 22nd 2015.

Why get angry at people purely for being successful? He has made his wealth through his talent and dedication. Why not channel your anger towards the people in society who haven't earned their riches legitimately?

AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2015.

Who's angry, Ed?

AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2015.

Get angry at the Royal Family - www.youtube.com/watch…

ChrisJanuary 22nd 2015.

I believe time is almost up for the British monarchy. There isn't any justification for them anymore.

AnonymousJanuary 23rd 2015.

@last two posts What has the Royal Family got to do with Neville's days at United?

AnonymousJanuary 19th 2015.

'Hotel Football Makes Me Nervous'? Probably because you've never had a real job.

30 Responses: Reply To This...
Ghostly TomJanuary 19th 2015.

I've always thought that Gary Neville was one of the most grounded of football players. Given what some of them get up to, Mr Neville, the family man who has gone on to use his money wisely, putting something back into the city for the fans who paid his wages is a great role model. Good luck to him. And I'm from the blue side of town btw....

Nick NameJanuary 19th 2015.

Always someone having a sly dig and finding fault.

AnonymousJanuary 20th 2015.

No Nick. Football really doesn't matter. Life and work skills do for the 99%.

AnonymousJanuary 20th 2015.

He earned a hell of a lot of money in a short space of time. If that's not a real job then I don't know what is.

AnonymousJanuary 20th 2015.

@above So football is a job now is it? Grow up fanboy!

AnonymousJanuary 20th 2015.

Of course it's a job you cretin! How thick can you be?

AnonymousJanuary 20th 2015.

@above Do footballers have skills that help save lives, make, build, create? Outside of entertaining the population, are they productive members of society? So no...football is not a real job.

Calum McGJanuary 20th 2015.

So, anon 1, what is your job?

AnonymousJanuary 21st 2015.

@Callum Good grief! One of the ones mentioned above. Silly boy!

Nick NameJanuary 21st 2015.

It matters to all the people who'll be employed because of this. It'll matter to all the kids at local schools and people learning at local colleges who get to use this. Likewise for the schools & colleges involved in his Salford City FC project. Can't you just be happy that someone who made a lot of money in football is doing something for the area he clearly loves?

Jonathan Schofield - editorJanuary 21st 2015.

Who is this Anon? What an utter fool, blind to virtue, stuck in a dark cave of resentment of his making. Honestly Anon, let's lose you as a reader, go elsewhere and fester.

AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2015.

I have no football team bias here and again, FOOTBALL DOES NOT MATTER. Not one of you posters have countered my statement that Gary Neville has never had what the 99% of the working population call a real job. Other than having a paper round, has he or the 'class of '92' worked in a factory, in retail or the service industry at least for a few years? Footballers are not men of the people and are poor role models. Resentment indeed!!! Shusssh now, Jonathan!

AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2015.

Neville is from humble beginnings he's hardly an investment banker from London. And he hasn't fcked off to some tax haven somewhere he's putting his time and money back into this city.

AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2015.

It matters to hundreds of millions around the world, as does sport in general, and music, film, art and all sorts of entertainment. You must lead a very boring life indeed. I have never worked in retail , a factory, or the service industry, but I have a job, I'll bet you don't.

AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2015.

'I have never worked in retail , a factory, or the service industry, but I have a job'? HAHAHA, you clown. What has that got to do with Gary Neville never having had a regular job like the 99% of us?

GimboidJanuary 22nd 2015.

Anon, whether Gary Neville has never had a regular job DOES NOT MATTER. You are very strange.

Nick NameJanuary 23rd 2015.

You clearly don't know how much Neville has done and is doing for Greater Manchester. It's not about football. It's about taking the money he earned and how he's ploughing it back. He's involving young kids, schools and colleges. Just as he was given his chance as a youngster he wants the young people in the region to reach their potential, be it in cooking, sports science or the media. Stop being so negative. The likes of Gary & Phil, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes and Ryan Gigs will play a very important role in shaping Manchester's future. Watch the documentary on BBC about Salford City when it airs and tell me these lads aren't doing anything that matters.

AnonymousJanuary 23rd 2015.

You seem to have an extremely rose-tinted view of what they are doing at Salford City, Nick Name.

AnonymousJanuary 23rd 2015.

I'd have respect for him and his ilk if he was behind a company that made [let's say] widgets that employed [soon to be] feckless youth from rough parts of Manchester. They would be taught discipline in the work place and begin to know the true value of the £.

Nick NameJanuary 23rd 2015.

You could say that anon. I'd say I give credit where credit is due. It's not as if he hung his boots up and fucked off to Malta with his suitcase of money. Time will prove me right.

AnonymousJanuary 24th 2015.

Malta? Who f***s off to Malta? That barren religion locked dull place? Clearly, you've never been.

Nick NameJanuary 24th 2015.

Malta. Huge United fan club and a place Neville has been known to visit. Change Malta for Maldives, Barbados, Seychelles. Whatever. He took his millions and stayed in the north west. He is involved in sustainable construction, property, a football club, a hotel and he employs local people and tries to link it with the young people in schools and colleges. Would you be so passionate about as many things if you'd have been so successful or would you be on a plane off in to the sunset?

AnonymousJanuary 24th 2015.

@above If I had the money and the ability, I would definitely invest in people local to me. I can't stand the term 'giving it back'. It sounds so false. It also sounds like an Americanism. It wouldn't be for my ego and it wouldn't be a hobby either.

Nick NameJanuary 24th 2015.

So you saying what Gary and the other lads from united are doing is for their ego?

AnonymousJanuary 24th 2015.

Anon above fool of 2015 so far.

AnonymousJanuary 24th 2015.

@Nick Name Did Anon state that? In fact, where is that statement posted at all on here?

Nick NameJanuary 24th 2015.

Erm? Yeah. ANONYMOUSAbout 3 hours ago. @above If I had the money and the ability, I would definitely invest in people local to me. I can't stand the term 'giving it back'. It sounds so false. It also sounds like an Americanism. It wouldn't be for my ego and it wouldn't be a hobby either.

Nick NameJanuary 24th 2015.

It wouldn't be for Anons ego or a hobby. I'm asking is that what you think Neville is in it for.

AnonymousJanuary 25th 2015.

To promote his post football image and business? He's an egotist.

Nick NameJanuary 26th 2015.

"To promote his post football image and business? He's an egotist" And you know this because? Why can't people see the good in others on here? So small minded and negative its untrue. This website should be called Moanchester Confidential.

AnonymousJanuary 19th 2015.

If it's taking money out of the Glazer's hands then that's got to be a good thing. If it's taking it out of their hands, saving supporters money and creating something that they value then even better. Good on Neville and Giggs for doing what the Glazer's aren't and actually putting something back into the community.

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 22nd 2015.

*sigh* such fanboy nonsence. Have you been talking to Terry Christian?

Nick NameJanuary 24th 2015.

Yeah cos the £700m the Glazers took out of the club really helped???

Phil MurphyJanuary 20th 2015.

He's a big ambassador for sustainable construction too, I've seen him give a very informative and in-depth talk on the issue. Many strings to his bow. He's alright he is.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 21st 2015.

I bet that was riveting! Get it?

AnonymousJanuary 24th 2015.

Gary Neville's pretty cute I reckon. Seems to get sexier with age. Anyone agree?

2 Responses: Reply To This...
AnonymousJanuary 25th 2015.

As a gay man I disagree.

AnonymousJanuary 25th 2015.

As a gay man I agree.

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