United fan blocks City expansion by selling his land online
The Manchester rivalry has taken an amusing turn with Manchester United fan and businessman Shaun O’Brien to divide 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 is selling the plots for £250 each (you can get them here if you’re interested: Unite Against the City). Although a lot of what he’s saying is a joke (comparing United v City to David v Goliath – as if United were a struggling League One club), he’s got a fair point – he wants City to pay what he feels is an acceptable price for buying his land and he won’t be pushed aside without a fight.
And now, thanks to the Internet, he might just be able to fulfill the 5,000 minimum sales that are necessary to make the club negotiate individually and fairly for each plot.
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.
At £250 / square-foot, the 18,500 square-foot land would be worth £4,625,000 – 4.6x more than the £1m offer City were willing to pay before moving for the proposed council order.
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.
Of course if you’re a City fan you might want to buy the land yourself and then ‘give’ it back to the Club, and there’s nothing to stop the Club from ‘buying’ the land by proxy either – but at the very least this United fan has done more than just complain about City’s wealth – he’s found a way to make them uncomfortable. For any rival fan, that’s a great story to tell.