The proposed complex would house a 7,000-seat youth stadium and 17 pitches (MCFC)
The proposed complex would house a 7,000-seat youth stadium and 17 pitches (MCFC)

A businessman who is standing in the way of ambitious expansion plans by Manchester City has defended his stance as "more than just about football".

Shaun O'Brien has refused to sell the land at his vehicle recovery company OB Trucks to Man City so they can build a new £100m training complex including a 7,000-seat stadium and 17 pitches. Instead, he has parcelled up the site into square foot plots which he will sell individually at £250 each.

His move has met with equal amounts of praise and anger in the football-mad city. But O'Brien was keen to stress that the scheme had nothing to do with football - especially since he started receiving threats to his home and business because of it.

O'Brien originally turned down an offer of £200,000 for the 18,500 sq ft site, plus an additional £750,000 for moving and expenses.

Since the offer was rejected, a compulsory purchase order (CPO) has been issued by Manchester City Council in a bid to speed up the process.

"The way it was originally reported [in the papers] they said that because I was a Man United fan I was trying to block their plans just because I hate City," O'Brien told International Business Times UK.

"But I'm a Mancunian before anything else and I'll admit the site is a s**t tip and what they're going to be doing with it is great, but it's the way they're going about it that I'm against.

"We've had hate mail, threats of violence, people threatening to burn the place down, to give my home address out on the internet, basically a hate campaign all because they were saying it's because I'm a United fan that I won't sell."

O'Brien said his decision to sell individual plots of land to "anybody else that feels strongly about our David & Goliath situation" via his website is not motivated by money or hatred of Manchester United's fiercest rivals but more for the principle. He has accused Manchester City, the world's richest club, of 'inappropriate bargaining techniques'.

"They came to us and said we're going to give you £200,000 for your land. Accept it or we're going to hit you with a CPO - take the money or else. That's not how you negotiate.

"If they treated us with respect, sat down with us and tried to hash a deal out like you would with any other type of business, it would have all been done and dusted right now. The tactics they have used have been disgraceful and I can't understand why. It's not like they're short of a few quid."

O'Brien claimed that the cost of keeping the land and all the legal costs work out at around £120 per sq ft - a total of £2.5m for entire site. Selling plots for £250 on the Unite Against City website which net him over £4.5m, making it one of the most expensive pieces of land in Britain outside the most expensive plots in the most exclusive areas of London.

"When they offered us the £200,000, we thought it was a ridiculous figure, so we just hit them with a ridiculous figure. Then they asked us to justify it and we realised that by launching this scheme we can.

"The idea isn't just for me to get rich quick. When we get to 5,000 sales, which we're not far off, I'm going to go back to City because what I don't want to do is stop the building going on.

"There's no way we're going to stand in the way of it. I'm just a little man shouting so I know 100 percent it will all go ahead. But what I'm concerned with is this is my livelihood. Why should I just hand it over to them for the figure that they've come up with?"

"We've never said that we won't sell. We just won't give it away."

Manchester City refused to comment.