United’s “Class of ‘92” team-up with Far East Investor

Posted on 29 August, 2015 by Cliff Goodwin

Just days after it announced it was buying into Manchester’s St Michael’s scheme, Singapore-based Rowsley has acquired a 75 per cent stake in Hotel Football  — the leisure complex developed by former Manchester United players Gary and Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs (pictured), Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt.


Rowsley — majority owned by Peter Lim and who is a part owner of Salford City football club  —  paid the “Class of ‘92” partnership nearly £30m for the shareholding. The deal includes a stake in the Cafe Football chain and GG Collections, the management company that owns the hotel and cafe operations.

Commenting on the buy-in, Rowsley’s chief executive Lock Wai Han said: “The deal will be the  first  among  others  that  will pave  the  way  for  our entry  into  the  hotel real estate and hotel  management  business.  It will expand our investments in Manchester beyond the St Michael’s development project.

“Our strategy is to develop and acquire good hotels in choice locations, and to allow shareholders to participate in long-term capital appreciation and recurrent income through hotel earnings. In hotel management, we aim to build a globally recognised brand through management contracts with the group’s hotels as well as those outside the group.

“Hotel Football has been very well received since it opened for business in March and we look forward to building on its early success.”

The transaction will also see Lim joining the original partners on the board of the 133-room Hotel Football. The hospitality, conferencing and banqueting venue, less than 100 yards from Old Trafford, opened for business this spring.

Two eateries are also covered by the deal. Café Football London, a restaurant located in Stratford’s Westfield shopping centre in east London, is the first in a planned chain of football-themed cafes to be co-located within other future Hotel Football premises or as standalone cafés near to football clubs in the UK and around the world.

Café Football Manchester is located in Hotel Football while the London restaurant is close to the Olympic Stadium where West Ham United FC will be relocating to next year. Its menu is overseen by two-star Michelin chef Michael Wignall.

“This is an exciting opportunity for Hotel Football and the city of Manchester,” said Gary Neville. “To be able to use and harness Rowsley’s enormous knowledge and expertise is unbelievable.

“When we dreamt of building Hotel Football, we knew exactly what we wanted it to be. However, we also knew that we would need a restructure within the company in order to facilitate the growth in our hospitality and leisure interests.”

Ryan Giggs added: “Our dream was a place where fans could extend their match day experience, a place led by the fans for the fans.”  The hotel is also home to the Old Trafford Supporters Club, dedicated to United fans.

“Our vision will not change,” he promised. “The supporters are paramount and it is important to stress that the OTSC will continue to operate and run as it has, where fans from all over can continue to congregate before and after the match and enjoy their love of the game.”

The acquisition followed Rowsley’s purchase of 75 per cent stake in St Michael’s development, a mixed-use project located in the heart of Manchester inwhich both Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs have interests.

Rowsley is joining forces with Beijing Construction and Engineering Group to pump millions of pounds into the regeneration scheme — to include offices, bars, restaurants and a five-star hotel — close to Manchester Town Hall.

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