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Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs tell squatters occupying hotel: You can stay for winter

Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville pictured during their playing days. Credit: Reuters/Manchester Angels

Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs have told a group of squatters who have moved into a building they plan on turning into a luxury hotel that they can stay for winter.

Squatters and activists from campaign group Manchester Angels set up camp in the former Stock Exchange building on Saturday.

But instead of launching action to boot the uninvited guests out, the iconic ex-Manchester United footballers have apparently granted them permission to stay.

ITV News correspondent Damon Green reports from Manchester:

Wesley Hall, a housing activist and leader of Manchester Angels, said he broke down in tears after Neville confirmed during a telephone conversation that he would allow the group to stay "over the winter period".

The message posted to Manchester Angels' Facebook page. Credit: Manchester Angels Facebook

After taking up residence, Manchester Angels shared a series of images from inside the historic building with the words "welcome to our second home".

Squatters set up camp inside the building. Credit: Manchester Angels Facebook
The former Stock Exchange building on Norfolk Street. Credit: Manchester Angels Facebook
The group will apparently be allowed to stay until February. Credit: Manchester Angels Facebook

Hall told the Manchester Evening News that Neville told him he "wanted to do more" to help the homeless community in Manchester.

What a great guy Gary Neville is.

We’ve been in negotiations with him and things are looking good. He said the main building work isn’t taking place until February, so we’ll be okay to stay until then.

He’s having surveyors in tomorrow, with a bit of building work being done. I cheekily said to him he should have the homeless guys do it instead of labourers to give them a bit of work.

I’m just in shock. He’s such an amazing guy.

He told me he’s always tried to help out homeless people in Manchester, but wanted to do more.

– Wesley Hall

He now plans on temporarily renaming the building the "Sock Exchange" and transforming it into a place where homeless people will be able to "get some new clothes, food and have a roof over their heads".

Neville, now a highly-acclaimed pundit for Sky Sports, has not officially commented on the situation but did appear to criticise Greater Manchester Police for posting details of the occupation on Twitter.

The police force later deleted the tweet.

Giggs and Neville have been granted permission to turn the grade two-listed building into a 35-bedroom boutique hotel, complete with a gym, spa, restaurant and roof terrace for members.