“Gary Neville University” – footballer in talks with Lancaster University

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Image: University of Salford Press Office via Flickr

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville is furthering his entrepreneurial building streak with his plans on opening a university in conjunction with our very own Lancaster University.

The team, including Neville’s brother Phil, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, are purportedly working with the university on opening a site in Greater Manchester –with reports that they have been looking at Stretford (Trafford) and Chester Road. The university would cater for almost 5,000 students, including halls of residence, using both new and existing builds in the area.

Formerly dubbed as the ‘Gary Neville University’, it has been reported that the future name for the university (University Academy ’92, shortened to UA92) will actually be in tribute to the Manchester United team that won the FA Youth Cup in 1992. The year is legendary in the football circle, in which the class consisting of Neville, Giggs and Scholes, achieved a 6-3 aggregate win over Crystal Palace. At the new university, they are allegedly hoping to offer a range of courses to budding students including media, catering, sports executive management, business and physiology, though the speciality will, of course, be in sports studies.

He has apparently told friends that he wants to try to give young people a good start in life as he fears conditions are getting increasingly tough for a generation that will struggle to get on the housing ladder. Having left Elton High School in Bury at 16 without any qualifications, he understands more than anyone the need to develop more opportunities for young people.

The project itself was revealed alongside plans to construct a nightclub at Insider 42’s under 42 event in October 2016 and would see the establishment of a fifth university in the area. Compared to the six already in Liverpool and London’s colossal forty, this could be seen as an asset to the expanding city that draws in both students and football fanatics.

A Lancaster spokesperson stated: “We can confirm that we are discussing this project with Gary Neville, but we are still evaluating its feasibility and no decision has yet been made to proceed or otherwise.”

Lancaster University has branched out in other academic developments before. Early in 2016, it was revealed that the university was joining with its highly ranked partner Beijing Jiaotong University to establish a new institute near Xizhimen in central Beijing. The campus, named Lancaster University College – Beijing Jiaotong University, had been praised for offering a better integration with diverse research and teaching activities to the university.

This wouldn’t be the first time that Neville has dived into the building business either. It’s safe to say that he has forged a career in property development over the recent years. Through his role as director of Jackson’s Row Developments Limited, a company set on developing structures in Manchester, the ex-footballer has contributed to many projects. In 2014, he established Hotel Football close to Old Trafford and, in 2013, he and ex-teammate Giggs bought the Northern Stock Exchange Building in the hopes of transforming it into a luxury hotel. More recently, he has unveiled plans to knock down an entire block in Manchester city centre to build two skyscrapers, a 5-star hotel and a split-level public plaza – a project totalling £200m.

As Neville himself has said in the past: “Our vision is to deliver the biggest statement in architecture and development that Manchester has seen in modern times.”