Gary Neville has compared the Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic to his time at Valencia as he joined Greater Manchester figures pledging to come together to support the community.
The former Manchester United player made the comparison to his management experience at the Spanish club, where he was sacked, when he spoke at an online press conference on Tuesday to launch the oneGM initiative, set up by mayor Andy Burnham.
Neville, who owns two hotels in the city, said: “The industry at this moment in time is absolutely ravaged.
“If the Government were coaching staff of a football team, they are changing the system every single week, they’re changing the tactics every single week, and the players don’t quite know what they’re doing – and we’re the players.
“This inconsistent and reactive direction which we’re under at this point in time is draining the confidence of us all, it’s confusing us all and we have to find a sustainable way forward.”
Neville said the people of Greater Manchester were proud of local leaders who clashed with the Government over funding as the region was placed into Tier 3 last week.
He said: “We know there is a shortfall of funding which the business community of Manchester will work, I’m sure, to try and make sure the support required for our communities is there.”
Mr Burnham said he wanted to “move beyond the arguments of recent days” and create a “positive, practical mood”.
He said the oneGM initiative would support the business community, the voluntary sector and individuals, with more details due to be announced in the next 10 days.
He said: “This is the Greater Manchester family coming together on a cross-community basis to say how we’re going to support people and businesses through what is going to be a really challenging winter.”
Mr Burnham said the region hoped to receive at least £65 million of Government funding, once backdated support for businesses under Tier 2 measures was included.
The press conference was also attended by the Bishop of Manchester David Walker, business owners and Coronation Street stars Antony Cotton, who plays Sean Tully, and Julie Hesmondhalgh, who used to appear in the soap as Hayley Cropper.
Hesmondhalgh said support was needed for the arts sector and freelancers who had “fallen through the gaps” of Government support.
She said: “We’re going to need a lot of help, it’s bad now but it’s only going to get worse.”
She also said it was important to get the message out that venues were still open across the region and were Covid-secure.
She said: “We’re here and we’re surviving with typical Manc heart and swagger against all the odds.”
Liz Taylor, owner of events company the Taylor Lynn Corporation, also welcomed the scheme, saying: “My business, which I established in 1986, has been totally and utterly decimated.
“I think the most frustrating thing about it is we just don’t have any idea if and when it’s going to come back.”