Cafe Football to open in Singapore next year, say Manchester United legends Neville and Giggs

Café Football, a business venture between property firm Rowsley and Manchester United legends Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs will soon set foot in Singapore.
Café Football, a business venture between property firm Rowsley and Manchester United legends Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs will soon set foot in Singapore. PHOTO: TOMOTSUZUKI/INSTAGRAM

SINGAPORE - The business venture between property firm Rowsley and Manchester United legends Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs will soon set foot in Singapore.

A new Café Football - part of the football-themed hospitality franchises that Rowsley acquired from Mr Neville and Mr Giggs last year - is set to open in Singapore next year, marking the chain's first foray outside of the United Kingdom.

Early talks are also ongoing to expand Hotel Football to Europe and Asia, with a focus on the Chinese and Indian markets, after the success of the Manchester flagship hotel which is just a stone's throw away from United's home ground Old Trafford.

These business plans were highlighted by Mr Neville and Mr Giggs in a media briefing on Wednesday (Oct 26) in Singapore.

Hotel Football and Café Football were originally joint ventures between local tycoon Peter Lim and the famous alumni of the famed "Class of 92" of Manchester United. Last year, Rowsley - also controlled by Mr Lim - acquired the businesses, but Mr Neville and Mr Giggs remain as minority shareholders and spokesmen.

"Hotel Football has over 80 per cent occupancy even during non-match days, outperforming our competitors across Manchester," Mr Neville said.

"We feel now is the right time to expand. We have an aggressive roll-out plan for Hotel Football, looking to over 5,000 new rooms over the next five to 10 years. We already have discussions in India, China, Thailand, and Malaysia, as well as other parts of the UK."

Meanwhile, the St Michael's and Northern Stock Exchange projects in Manchester's city centre are being geared up for development. These are also joint ventures between Rowsley, Mr Neville and Mr Giggs.

St Michaels' will be a mixed-used development with hotel, office, residential and retail units. Planning permission will be acquired within weeks, Mr Neville said, adding that the Northern Stock Exchange will be converted from a heritage building into a boutique hotel.

Mr Neville is confident that the impact of Brexit on business sentiment and property demand in Britain is a short-term event that does not affect long-term players like Rowsley.

"It's just a moment that we are going to live through… not something we can ill afford. It's like losing a football match - there's still the next one to play."