Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs have told a group of homeless people occupying their luxury hotel in Manchester that they can stay for the winter.
The Manchester United legends gained planning permission in September to turn the city’s Stock Exchange into a boutique hotel.
And that will see a new plush building complete with a basement gym, spa and rooftop private members’ terrace created.
Before that, the Stock Exchange has been occupied by a group of squatters and housing activists called the Manchester Angels, who believe it is their legal right to be there.
As it turns out, Neville and Giggs have no problem with it too – telling the protest group’s leader Wesley Hall that they can stay throughout the winter as long as there is no interruption to work being done on the building.
Hall told The Guardian:
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.
We were expecting that as soon as Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville found out that we had occupied the building that they would try to get us evicted and that we would have to look for another building. Having a few months during the winter to work with homeless people without the threat of eviction hanging over our heads is brilliant.
I can’t quite believe it. The whole thing is a dream come true. We’ve got a real opportunity to do some intensive work with homeless people and make a big difference to their lives.
It’s a remarkable gesture from both Neville and Giggs to allow the squatters to stay in the building which will form the first part of their ambitious St Michael’s project.
Along with the backing of property and sports tycoon Brendan Flood and the Rowsley Group, they plan to develop Jackson’s Row in Manchester’s city centre.
Life must be busy for both Neville and Giggs – between their football obligations and work outside of the game.
Neville is a part of England’s backroom team and also one of Sky Sports’ main pundits.
While Giggs is Louis van Gaal’s assistant manager at Manchester United and is widely expected to take over from the Dutchman when his contract at the club expires in 2017.
Added to that, they were in business together with the building of the plush Hotel Football outside Old Trafford up until the start of October when they chose to end their partnership with the hotel’s backer Stuart Proctor.