By Shane McGinley
Abu Dhabi-owned City score another victory as landlord crumbles in face of training complex plan
A Manchester United fan who tried to derail Abu Dhabi’s US$158m plans to develop a training complex for Premier League champions Manchester City has withdrawn his objection to the expansion and agreed to sell his plot of land to developers.
Businessman and Manchester United fan Shaun O’Brien’s plot of land was located within the expansion plans for Manchester City’s home stadium at Etihad Stadium, but refused to sell after claiming he was offered a “ridiculous” figure.
In a bid to derail a compulsory purchase order (CPO) issued by Manchester City Council, O’Brien set up a website selling entitled ‘Unite Against City’ urging fellow Manchester United fans around the world to buy one of 18,500 square-foot plots of his land.
However, O’Brien revealed that he has now abandoned his crusade and has agreed to sell his plot of land, for an undisclosed amount, to allow the expansion by the new Premier League Champions to continue as planned.
“It has [been resolved],” he told Arabian Business on Monday. “But I am not allowed to comment as they signed me up on a gagging order. I am not allowed to talk about it.”
The ‘Unite Against City’ website has now been shutdown and a message simple states: “Our campaign has now finished. Thank you for your interest.”
O’Brien had previously claimed he had seen strong interest from Manchester United fans eager to buy one of the 18,500 plots, which were priced at GBP£250 (US$395) each.
“The response has been amazing... Right across the United States, Australia, Singapore, Korea, Russia, South Africa. Germany seems to be the most popular area. There are 330 million United fans around the world.
“A lot of people who are applying would never sell. They are ardent United fans and if you offered them a million pounds they would never sell,” O’Brien said in a previous interview.
O’Brien said the club had offered him a “ridiculous” figure of GBP£200,000 (US$316,000) for his company and when he refused local council authorities issued him with the CPO.
The Northern English club was bought by Sheikh Mansour Bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG) in 2008 and his investment of nearly US$1bn on Sunday helped the club win its first league championship triumph in 44 years when it was crowned Premier League champions 2012.
However, the team’s success has come at a cost and it announced losses of GBP£194.9m (US$307.4m) for the 2010-11 financial year, which represents one of the biggest ever reported losses by an English Premier League club.
Money talks!!! well paid city, well paid.