Tag Archives: Stretford


We thought maybe we could adequately recap how the year has gone re: The Gary Neville University in a snappy hundred and fifty words. That’s University Academy 92, a private university that we’re partnering up with a group of ex Manchester United players to build. Sadly, condensing this omnishambles into a couple of paragraphs is too unconquerable a task, since the whole project has been bombarded with failure and incompetence from one end to the other.
So, we’re just going to dump all of the links to all of our Gary Neville University coverage (from 2017-18 only, mind)! Read all about the gibberish promotional literature, Trafford Council rejecting multiple building and redevelopment proposals, the resistance from Stretford residents, the Class of ’92 suing the managing director (who runs a rival outfit in the same area) of their own university over use of the name UA92, the drain it is proving to be on our own staffing resources, the unclear and potentially exploitative contracts the academic staff will be employed on, how their application to take on international students was DENIED, the total lack of any market research, the contradictions of the claims taken from the non-existent market research, the ‘lingerie football league’, and how they are unable to make any promises to prospective students about partners and placements because they haven’t got any despite begging on Twitter for months.
Is that everything? Your UA92 drone thinks it is, so here it all is, in one big lump. It is the most important story we have covered for the past two years, the most fertile golden goose in subtext history, and subtext is the ONLY publication where you can keep up to date on the blatant, blaring disaster just waiting to happen again and again and again. We feel we’ve earned your subscription and attention for our UA92 coverage alone – here it is below.


















In subtext 171 we reported an attempt by a Stretford resident to obtain more information on UA92 via a Freedom of Information request to the University. Despite being given the old ‘commercial in confidence’ brush off, the resident persisted, with follow-up questions seeking more detail relating to the University’s first response. The information revealed in that reply is intriguing. The resident wanted to know what market research had been conducted which convinced the University that UA92 was a viable proposition. It turns out the answer was… not very much.

Lancaster regularly carries out research into the national student market and it was information from this, rather than anything specifically relating to UA92 and Stretford, that informed its decision to go ahead. Despite the claims made by Gary Neville and his pals that local young people would benefit from UA92, it turns out that they will not be targeted any more than those in the UK as a whole. The only differentiation in projected numbers is between ‘domestic’ and ‘international’. Then there is the matter of student retention, already a cause for concern for the Bailrigg campus. According to the publicity, potential UA92 students will be ‘non-traditional’ in that they are less likely to aspire to a university education and will not have the qualifications to enter ‘traditional’ HE. These are precisely the type of students likely to drop out, yet Lancaster’s projections for UA92, according to the FOI response, are based on ‘average non-continuation rates informed by HEFCE’s data’. In other words, the University is assuming that the UA92 drop-out rate will be in line with that of the sector as a whole.

The Stretford resident also wanted to know what information had been gathered on students’ likely disposable income, on car ownership, on public transport usage, on local domicile – all those factors that would justify Trafford Council’s contention that UA92 would be a key driver for local regeneration. The University’s response was that no research had been conducted in any of these areas. So, what justifies Trafford Council’s optimism? Have they conducted their own research, or have they, like Lancaster, been swayed by the charm and celebrity of Gary and the boys? No doubt these and other UA92 questions will be on the minds of voters in the May local elections, where ‘Tory flagship council’ Trafford could be lost to Labour. Should that happen, we’ll be into a whole new ball game,as they say.

(With thanks to the excellent ‘M32 Stretford Masterplan and UA92’ discussion group on Facebook for this information)



In what we think was its first mention of the Gary Neville University since the story broke a year ago, SCAN ran a head to head, ‘for / against’ opinion piece on the subject. subtext readers may be surprised to see that the author of the ‘against’ piece was a member of staff, not least a member of staff who was happy to be named (‘big shoutout’ to Dr Jacob Phelps, FST). More surprising, however, was that the ‘for’ piece came from an anonymous source. Not only was SCAN unable to find someone willing to put their name to a defense of the Gary Neville University, SCAN was unable to find a member of staff to write one! The author refers to themself as ‘a student’. Is UA92 so embarrassing that even students won’t put their name to opinion pieces defending it, or did SCAN get so close to the deadline without someone willing to support it that they hastily ghostwrote any old bobbins?

Whoever wrote the piece claimed that the ‘naysayers have given no clear, coherent argument against UA92…’

Clearly they haven’t been reading subtext for the past year!



The public pressure against the Class of ‘92 continues to mount, and it continues to make the national press. This time, campaigners are unhappy with the idea of Gary Neville & co taking over Turn Moss, which is green belt land and a habitat of local wildlife. By our count, the Class of ‘92 has had to withdraw and rejig every bit of planning permission they’ve applied for, and their property development efforts are become increasingly unwelcome and irritating to residents, as reported in a number of national media organs:



subtext 171 – ‘the stable genius of a shithole subtext’

Fortnightly during term time.

Letters, contributions, & comments: subtext-editors@lancaster.ac.uk

Back issues & subscription details: http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/subtext/about/

In this issue: editorial, tech, groveling apology, website, UA92 bonanza, court, leadership bonanza, UCLan, BAM, lowercase letters, shart, concert review, letters.



We had it all sewn up – the editorial was written, the issue was edited, and we were seconds away from hitting our big red button…

… and then we heard this breaking news:

Stretford residents have just scored a major success in its opposition to Trafford Council’s regeneration plans, to which the Gary Neville University is integral. The Council has withdrawn its plans for Lacy Street, the proposed site for UA92 student accommodation. They now want to focus on a significantly reduced size, with commercial use alongside joint student and key worker accommodation, and on a much slower timescale to allow for proper consultation. The delay is expected to be a year. There is no information as yet on how this will impact on the main campus development on the old Kellogs site, but this is likely to be a major blow for UA92, which is supposed to be ready for the first student intake in September 2019. Close observers of recent events in Stretford will realise that locals have worked hard to make their voices heard. Their success is, apart from anything else, a lesson to us all in the power of organised opposition.

Welcome, readers, to another year of subtext!


The VC is said to have been pleasantly surprised by the warm reception given to the plans for UA92 by the people of Stretford. We have to wonder how he gained that impression. At a recent public consultation, Gary Neville and our own Professor Sharon Huttly experienced at first hand the frustration felt by local people at the lack of information from Trafford Council, the Class of 92 and Lancaster University (staff here will no doubt fully sympathise in this regard). Reports from the meeting suggest that they were in fact taken aback by the strength of the opposition.

Perhaps the VC was relying on the results of an online poll conducted by Trafford Council, which apparently showed that 75% of local residents were in favour of the scheme. However, doubts arose about the reliability of this poll when it emerged that respondents were presented with four options for each survey question, three of which could be interpreted as positive responses. This is an approach to assessing opinion familiar to anyone who has ever completed a Lancaster staff satisfaction survey. Oh, and it was possible to fill in the survey as many times as you wanted. We must hope that further decisions on UA92 will be informed by better research. Perhaps if we are really lucky, they will create a word cloud (see subtext 160)!


It is with sadness that subtext noted that the authors of the letters in subtext 168 regarding the plans for UA92 all wished to remain anonymous, implying concern about expressing views other than that lending our collective academic credibility to this scheme is a fantastic idea.

It is noticeable that the ubiquitous propaganda screens which have appeared all over the refurbished areas of campus portray only one acceptable body type for anyone associated with UA92 i.e. beautiful, young, muscular, athletic and healthy, combined with a Serious Expression* (presumably indicative of ‘academic excellence’).

It would be a great shame if the repeated reinforcement of the message that ‘the university’ welcomes this association with the world of sport has also led to a perception that there is also only one acceptable mindset for anyone associated with Lancaster University i.e. blind agreement with the leaders’ decisions.

*if you haven’t clocked this expression on the UA92 PR machine then imagine a cross between Einstein, the Curies, de Beauvoir and Confucius at their most contemplative. Now forget that, and instead combine a lot of boredom, a touch of bewilderment and just a hint of belligerence.



In this issue, we publish a letter from a Stretford resident stating some of the objections from local residents to the siting of the new UA92 in the middle of their community (see Letters below). This is symptomatic of the growing – and strengthening – opposition in Stretford to the plans announced with much fanfare in September. Shortly after that announcement an online petition was launched which within days attracted over 900 signatures. The petition – addressed to Trafford Council – highlighted the environmental and social impact of having a 6,500-strong ‘student village’ built in the area. Local people have long campaigned to have the damage caused by previous ‘regeneration’ schemes to be put right, and were hoping that the current Stretford Town Centre Masterplan would at least begin to address this. Instead, they are having to deal with a scheme which, in their view, would make their situation worse.

Residents are particularly incensed that all this has been presented as a fait accompli by Trafford Council. There had been no consultation with residents and even local councillors had been kept in the dark. Since the plans were announced there has been one public consultation meeting, with another to come. However, some of those who attended the meeting are of the opinion that the Council is simply going through the motions and that it was all a done deal. At this stage, it is not clear if it was UA92 that first approached the Council for a piece of the Trafford Masterplan action or if it was the other way round. What we do know is that MediaCity in Salford was under consideration as the UA92 site when, late in the day, the Stretford option appeared on the table, suggesting that it was Trafford Council who made the approach. It would appear that the star appeal of the Class of 92 was such that the Council was prepared to make a significant change to its own development plan in order to accommodate their wishes.

Trafford is not the first local authority in the area to be dazzled by the glamour of these footballing legends. Earlier this year the Salford Star announced the winner of one of its annual awards for ‘the most deserving individuals and organisations in the city for their stupid statements, dodgy dealings and iffy activities over the last twelve months’. And the winner of this accolade for 2016 was Salford City Council for ‘the very strange manner in which planning permission was obtained for Salford City FC to develop its Moor Lane stadium’, the same club that’s 50% owned by the Class of 92. And who owns the other half? Why, none other than Mr Peter Lim, who already controls 75% of the said Class of 92. The Salford Star also highlighted the role of a company called Zerum Construction Management Ltd, which seems to specialise in helping development companies find the cheapest way through those pesky planning regulations. A quick search of the Companies House database reveals that Zerum is 75%-owned by a Mr Gary Neville. Not for nothing has the Star decided to name its annual prize the ‘Gary Neville Finger in Pies Award’.



The UA92 website continues to astound with its philosophical pronouncements and its steadfast refusal to be bound by niceties of syntax and logic. Its ‘Vision’, we are told, is to ‘educate preparation to realise dreams’. And what does this mean? Apparently, it’s about ‘giving our graduates the tools, challenges, support and confidence to make amazing happen.’

Ryan Giggs, long-experienced in giving 110% effort when he played for Man U, gives his own prescription for ‘making amazing happen’. ‘Here at UA92’, he states, ‘we believe that tenacity, preparedness, passion and hard work play an equally important role. Add commitment, inner fire and the right preparation, and you can compete at a level far beyond your inborn potential…’

While we at the Mother Campus limit our ambitions to helping students develop to their full potential, at UA92 they will be encouraged, nay enabled, to go ‘far beyond’ that potential. To infinity and beyond, indeed. And all this, in the closing words of the ‘Vision’, will be ‘underpinned by the academic rigour of top-performing, world-renowned Lancaster University.’

We have been warned.



Aside from lauding its ‘good character building’, UA92 has also been publicly committing itself to a widening participation agenda.

Presenting educational opportunities to people from marginalised communities requires tact, empathy, and an understanding of the barriers that people face, and who better to smash stereotypes and level the playing field than the Class of ’92? A body whose commitment to ‘closing the gender pay gap’ and ‘generating… public interest in the women’s game’ culminated in their sponsorship of the Lingerie Football League (http://tinyurl.com/yce32ouz)

We look forward to UA92’s positive presentation of poor, disabled, and ethnic minority students. We suggest a flashmob of soot encrusted children in Victorian dress, Joey Deacon impressions, and a black and white minstrel show [that’s enough – ed].


Dear subtext,

I suspect I’m not alone in asking if you’ve seen our latest signage but if not I suggest you pop ‘down south’ for a look. At first it all appeared very corporate and professional, a smart look with clear white on black text (though some colleagues feel the text is too small). However as of this week we’ve had a very odd black monolith appear at the south end of the spine with a map so small you’ll need to be issued with a magnifying glass to view, and a step ladder if you’re under 6ft tall. To cap it all Charles Carter has gained purple, black and white signage and the ISS building itself has a nice place for students or staff to rest their pint glasses, empty bottles and ashtrays on. The funny thing about the ISS building is you’d have to walk right up to the door to even read the sign!

Also has anyone commented on the removal of the location grid from the maps, replaced by some sort of numbering scheme? Patently the designer of the map has never had to use one to find anything! Nah let’s just get rid of the grid lines, we don’t like boxes, we’re not a box university! You can just imagine the meeting.

Name supplied


Dear subtext,

The new UA92 campus will educate 6500 new students – a 50% increase on Lancaster’s current numbers. This is being imposed on a town in Manchester which has a settled, established community of 30000. Many residents are very worried about the impact of such a high influx of students on our infrastructure and existing community. Part of the plan is to build a 20 storey tower on a very small site in the heart of Stretford which will house 1700 students. In a ‘masterplan’ consultation, our local council has shared vague information about how it will all work, hiding the most alarming plans within very long documents. It feels like our concerns are going unheard. We have yet to have any direct input from UA92, or from Lancaster. We would really like to hear evidence that all parties involved are considering the local community – perhaps some commitments to widening participation schemes and other outreach locally. But there is nothing, and we feel like our town is just being used to make more money for people who already have lots.

A Stretford resident (name supplied)


Dear subtext,

Your concerns over posters on campus advertising a public meeting on the centenary of the Balfour declaration (HOW NOT TO PROMOTE A POLITICAL MEETING, 26 Oct. 2017) seem to me misplaced. subtext objects to the ‘alarm’ likely to be caused among members of the University community by discussion of ‘Jewish opposition to Zionism’. There will doubtless be those that that disagree with speaker Robert Cohen’s views on Zionism, but is there really any reason to be alarmed at this subject being discussed?

subtext also objects to part of the poster’s blurb which states: ‘most Jewish communities around the world will be celebrating the anniversary’ of the Balfour declaration. This is actually the first half of a sentence, which in full reads: ‘While most Jewish communities around the world will be celebrating the anniversary, Palestinians see it as an historic betrayal of their rights, the implications of which are still being played out today’. Again, it is hard to see what is objectionable about this statement.

The piece goes on to cite a survey recording that ‘93% of British Jews feel that Israel is important to their identity’. The argument that seems to follow is that a similar number of British Jews regard the Balfour declaration as ‘on the whole, probably a good thing’ and would therefore not feel welcome at the advertised event. It seems a stretch to interpret British Jews seeing Israel as ‘important’ to their identity to represent any value judgement about the modern state of Israel, let alone a statement by a British Foreign Secretary made 100 years ago – even one as important as the Balfour declaration. More worrying is the inference that because a certain group holds something to be central to their identity, critical debate of this subject should be discouraged for fear of offending members of that group.

In a week when Chris Heaton-Harris MP seemingly united academia in defending freedom of political expression on university campuses it is disappointing to see subtext (usually a staunch defender of these values) objecting to a poster advertising discussion of a controversial topic – even if it is in a silly font.

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Mills


Dear subtext,

Have you seen the promotional video for the UA UA92? https://www.ua92.ac.uk/about-ua92. It is wrong on so many levels! Coming from a University that used to pride itself on its Centre for Women’s Studies we now seem to have slid into a very ‘iffy’ area of marketing. Entire thesis could be written about this representation of women in this presentation (the funding should be easy to achieve in the current Weinstein climate). It is so inappropriate that it would take an entire edition of subtext to discuss. Am I the only person who feels this presents Lancaster University in a very bad light? Sorry but on this one I feel Lancaster is way off trend.

Name supplied