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Manchester Football Returns, And Real Estate Will Benefit


A Manchester side will lead the Premier League’s return to the pitch and to terrestrial television next Wednesday 17 June.

Manchester City v Arsenal will be held on the first day of fixtures intended to complete the pandemic-paused 2019/2020 season.

But football means more than entertainment. For Manchester real estate it means the resumption of the city’s international profile in the capital markets

According to the participants in a webinar about cross-border investment in the north, Manchester’s foreign-owned football teams are key part of the ongoing appeal on the city-region. The return to competitive sport of the city's two big clubs is a reminder to the world that Manchester exists, particularly in China, where Manchester United is one of the two most popular sides. 

Manchester ranks second to London as the UK's most popular destination for overseas spending and investment: Tourism spending is more than £8B annually with foreign direct investment approaching £3B. According to Savills roughly 30% of the £557M invested in commercial property in Manchester and Salford during 2019 was from overseas. The figure for residential investment is higher.

Colliers International’s Head of UK Regional Development and Office Agency Michael Hawkins said cross-border investment in Northern Powerhouse cities will continue because of the attractions of an educated workforce created by the region’s excellent universities, and foreign ownership of the region’s football teams.

“These cities continue to attract investment from around the globe because they are cosmopolitan cities in cosmopolitan parts of the country — the cities have vibrancy and the intellect of their communities,” Hawkins said.

The revival of cities will be “supercharged” if they can harness private cross-border investment, Colliers International UK Chief Economist Walter Boettcher said.

In his paper Regional Revolution III: Rise of Cross Border Investment, Boettcher pointed out that prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the UK regions such as the north west were attracting increasing attention from commercial property investors, and in particular cross-border investors.

“In the early to mid-2000s, regional investment was the province of large UK pension and insurance funds, as well as the odd German fund, but by the late 2010s, the regional investor base expanded to include a wider range of investors, especially cross-border investors,” he said.

“While the pandemic suggests that these regional gains could be reversed as transactions decline and risk perception rises, in fact, the north west and other regions are well-positioned for a post-pandemic recovery.

“The heavy lifting in the regions, as contemplated by central government, can only be achieved in tandem with cross-border investors and UK institutions who have the required depth of capital.”

“Perhaps the most crucial and indispensable task is left to local governments and, especially local stakeholders, to envision and bring to market projects of sufficient scale to attract investors and to enable their engagement. It is in this way that the UK regions will benefit from the much vaunted regional rebalancing that is, at the least, one generation overdue."