Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs are set to become the first Premier League footballers to own and run a synagogue.
The football icons turned property developers have their eyes set on Manchester Reform Synagogue, a 1950s building and the only city-centre shul in Manchester, which adjoins a major redevelopment site.
Mr Neville and Mr Giggs have gone into business building hotels and restaurants around the world. They are currently constructing a football-themed hotel next to Old Trafford.
Now the pair plan to buy a disused police station just off Deansgate, Manchester’s main shopping street.
Because Manchester Reform Synagogue is adjacent, they will have to buy that, too, and as part of the deal to create new offices, apartments and shops on the site, they will incorporate a new shul and community centre complex.
The shul was built on Jackson’s Row in 1952 after its former building was the only Manchester synagogue destroyed in the Blitz on June 1, 1941.
The current building was rebuilt using money from the War Damage Commission, and includes a large synagogue, banqueting hall and classrooms.
The JC has learned that Mr Giggs and Mr Neville’s company, Jackson Row Developments, is likely to follow a 2007 plan to demolish the existing synagogue and build an eco-friendly prayer complex incorporating a banqueting hall, internet café, and offices for the rabbi.
Above it, apartments and offices would be built, possibly 12-14 storeys high.
Synagogue president Danny Savage confirmed he has had extensive discussions with Mr Neville, who he said was “very keen”, but was unable to give further details.
“Our aim is to deliver a Jewish community centre and a synagogue fit for the current generation. Our uniqueness as the only city-centre synagogue make it more inclusive a community, predominantly for the Jewish community. Our hope is that it will include meeting spaces, which have been given a lot of thought,” Mr Savage said.
It is likely the freehold on the land will remain with the Reform community, but the synagogue building seems certain to be part-owned by Mr Neville and Mr Giggs.