Manchester mess leaves Co-op brand short-changed

After spending a reported £100m on a 15-year sponsorship of the UK’s biggest arena, Co-op Group is now having to spend time and energy distancing itself from the whole thing. Due to ongoing technical issues, Manchester’s new Co-op Live Arena failed to open on 23rd April as planned, and has postponed or cancelled shows at short notice from big names like Peter Kay and Olivia Rodrigo, while Take That have moved to the rival AO Arena nearby.

Former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher, when asked by a fan what he would do if the venue still wasn’t functioning in time for his shows, quipped that he’d be playing a gig in Lidl. And took the opportunity to be more than disparaging about Tesco.

Instead of glamour and entertainment, the Co-op brand is now the butt of jokes about the “C*ck-up Arena” and the “Co-flop Arena.” A spokesperson was forced to point out: “Co-op is a sponsor, it does not own or run the venue and we’ve made it clear to Oakview Group, who are responsible for the building, that the impact on ticket holders must be addressed as a priority.”

The £360m, 23,500-capacity arena is also backed by the UAE money via City Football Group, while pop star Harry Styles has invested and advised on design.

Co-op Live may yet achieve its ambition to “level up” the UK entertainment scene and lure major awards shows, gigs and sporting events away from London, and the 2024 MTV Europe Music Awards are due to be hosted there later this year.

No doubt the venue has been right to put customer safety first, but it could take years to shake off its bad beginnings. People have long memories, and the “C*ck-up Arena” jokes are likely to come out every time the slightest thing goes wrong.



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