Sport and entrepreneurship are two worlds that continue to collide. Of course, it’s unsurprising given the amount of money that athletes earn.
In March, former Manchester United stars Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs held the grand opening of their Hotel Football joint venture.
Making the transition from football to hospitality, the duo also united with other teammates Philip Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt for the project.
Explaining the concept, Hotel Football MD, Stuart Proctor, said: “Football brings everybody together, so we wanted to create something here that’s for everybody. Football is about fun, and that’s what hotels and restaurants are about too – we’re in the entertainment business.
“We want to see families here with kids’ birthday parties, and groups of girls enjoying cocktails, as well as football fans coming here to watch a game in the week or on match days too.
“It also helps that the ones opening such a hotel are arguably five of the most fantastic players of our generation. Their knowledge of football is second to none and this will be evident throughout the hotel, but the focus will be on quality, as well as football – to ensure it will be a great experience for everyone.”
While Proctor detailed an ambition to attract a variety of customers, it’s perhaps come as a shock to learn that a site owned by Neville and Giggs, which is planned for a second hotel, has been occupied by a group of homeless squatters, according to the Guardian.
And, in what is perhaps even more of a shock, Neville and Giggs are okay with it.
The former Manchester stock exchange is set to undergo a transformation to include a gym, spa and rooftop terrace for private members, but the housing activist group Manchester Angels has moved in. In response, the ex-footballers agreed that the uninvited guests can take shelter from the cold winter over the next few months.
Read more on sport and entrepreneurship:
- Josh Lewsey’s journey from Rugby World Cup winner to businessman
- Andy Murray builds on crowdfunding advisory role with three new investments
- Dame Kelly Holmes: The overlap between sport and business
Neville is said to have been a huge supporter of Manchester’s homeless over the past decade, and said “from my point of view, I’m quite relaxed about this” during a phone call with Wesley Hall, the leader of Manchester Angels.
Hall, who expected immediate eviction threats from Neville and Giggs, reportedly broke down in tears and continued to repeat his thanks, claiming “you don’t understand what you have done for us.”
Given Neville’s stance and a suggestion from Hall, it may end up that the squatters see their fortunes turn around with the opportunity of even working for the ex-footballer.
“We are going to do everything properly. We have already drawn up rotas for cooking, cleaning and staffing the gate. Everyone will be able to have their own room and each person will be able to lock their bedroom door,” said Hall.
“We undertake not to cause any damage to anything and to leave the building in as good if not a better state than we found it in. I have ordered smoke alarms to keep the building safe. I even suggested to Gary that he might be interested in employing some of the homeless people who are living here as labourers to help with the redevelopment work on the hotel.”
True to Proctor’s words earlier in the year, it appears there really is “a great experience for everyone” after all.