When Manchester City made plans to build a new £100 million training facility and youth team stadium in east Manchester, I’m sure they anticipated a certain amount of negotiating when it came to the price of the land on which they intended to build. What they didn’t count on, however, was the property being owned by Manchester United’s newest legend, Shaun O’Brien.
Mr. O’Brien, who has owned the plot since 1987, was apparently unimpressed with the club’s offer, because he is steadfastly refusing to sell.
O’Brien claims that this is purely a business decision and that City have failed to come anywhere near his £4.5 million asking price. It seems the principles of property valuation differ greatly in the red and blue halves of the city, as the club’s highest offer was a mere £950,000, 200 for the location and 750 for relocation expenses.
Now I’m a big believer in getting fair value for an asset and not letting the oil barons push you around. However, I would be more inclined to believe his “business decision” assertion had he not set up this site. That’s right, O’Brien carved up his property into single square foot plots and has made them available for sale (£250 each) on a website called “Unite Against City”. He claims to have sold “a significant number” of the 18,000 mini-lots, and has obviously received an outpouring of support from United fans.
Should all the plots be sold, O’Brien will have his £4.5 million and be quite pleased. City, however, are currently negotiating with the Manchester City Council to obtain a compulsory purchase order and buy the land directly from the city itself. I won’t bore you with the legal details, but I will say that I’ve put in a £250 petty cash request to the FourFiveTwo accounting department. Still no word, but it’s Monday and they’re usually a bit slow until they get their coffee. I’ll keep you posted.