Gary Neville admits 'huge mistakes' with £400m Manchester development plans - including tearing down iconic pub

6 July 2023, 16:53

The football pundit attempted to get the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub knocked down.
The football pundit attempted to get the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub knocked down. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Gary Neville has admitted to making "huge mistakes" with his £400m development plans in Manchester city centre.

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The St Michael's scheme includes two towers containing a five-star hotel, luxury flats, offices and a rooftop restaurant. But the 15-year battle to make it a reality has been "a bumpy ride", the former Manchester United star said.

Original plans for the buildings saw a huge backlash from locals, who suggested part of Manchester's "precious heritage" would be erased.

Neville had attempted to have a popular pub - believed to be the inspiration for Life On Mars - knocked down as part of the plans.

But the football pundit has now admitted attempting to get the iconic pub demolished was a “huge mistake”.

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Gary Neville admitted to the mistake during an interview.
Gary Neville admitted to the mistake during an interview. Picture: Alamy

Neville, who is set to appear as a guest star on the next series of Dragons Den, said his plans for the development "came out of ambition and aspiration".

"I had a couple of experiences around that time. You come out of Manchester United where you've won for 15, 20 years, you feel unbreakable," he said on Radio 5 Live's Wake Up To Money.

"You're doing things, you're excited about everything you do and you may get a bit carried away. 

"I've said Valencia was a job I shouldn't have taken on. I was sacked after four months. I didn't have the capability to do it and it needed someone with vast experience. 

"The St Michael's project showed me that you can have a good idea, but if you don't bring people along with you on the journey and don't communicate with them you're not going to succeed."

Mr Neville says the project is now back on track after he revised his initial plans, adding that work started 18 months ago.

He has claimed the project will ultimately create 2,200 jobs, as well as an extra 700 jobs in construction.

Mr Neville defended the development’s lack of affordable housing during the interview, as he said: “Manchester needs all types of different properties. Do you think it's right that an international city of Manchester's quality only has one five star hotel?

“We absolutely need more affordable housing. And the development will make a payment worth millions to the council to contribute to more of it in Manchester.

“It's not right that we don't have enough affordable housing. But that doesn't mean that when we build something that's world class that we should blame that.”

The former Man United player has started a number of projects across different industries over the years, including the opening of a Manchester-based hotel, Hotel Football.

But he added that despite some of his success, he’s also faced a number of setbacks, including a £3.2mil loss at one of his hotels in Manchester over the pandemic.

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