United fan sells land to block City expansion
LONDON (Reuters) -- A Manchester United fan aims to block rival Manchester City's "goals of football domination" by selling off thousands of parcels of a site earmarked by the world's richest club for a 100-million-pound ($158 million) training complex.
Businessman Shaun O'Brien has divided the land at his vehicle recovery company, OB Trucks, near City's Etihad Stadium, into 18,500 square-foot plots for sale in a bid to disrupt a proposed council order to make him sell it.
He was selling the plots for 250 pounds each through website, Unite Against the City, to "ardent Reds and anybody else that feels strongly about our David & Goliath situation," in order to make the club negotiate individually and fairly for each plot, the website said.
The sale had attracted buyers from around the world, including the United States and Spain, since the website went live on Feb. 6, O'Brien told Reuters, declining to reveal the sales figures. "We're very close to fulfilling the 5,000 minimum."
The campaign was "to prevent Manchester City's attempts to acquire our land in Eastlands, Manchester, in order to further their goals of football domination", O'Brien wrote on the website.
Local newspaper Manchester Evening News said O'Brien had refused a one-million-pound offer from City to leave the site, stalling the club's bid to redevelop a run-down, 80-acre plot near their stadium.
O'Brien said City had offered him 200,000 pounds for the land for the past two years, though they had said they would pay another 750,000 pounds for moving and expenses.
"But it's just not enough," he said. "I've been here for 15 years, I had no intention to sell (the land)... As a business who want my land to further their business they should come and sit down, negotiate and we'll hack out a figure, whereas all along they've said we'll give you 200,000 pounds or we'll get the council to CPO you," he said.
A compulsory purchase order has now been issued by Manchester City Council and the club to try to force O'Brien to sell at market value.
Manchester City hold the title of the world's richest club, gained after they were bought by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi three years ago