The Class of ’92 footballers said to be in talks with the university are Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Ryan Giggs, and Paul Scholes.
The club’s former players are graduates of Manchester United’s youth football academy who started their careers at the club in the early 1990s. They include David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, and Paul Scholes.
In the span of seven years, they went from success at youth team level to becoming part of the only team throughout English football history to ever win the prestigious treble, i.e. winning three cups – the UEFA Champions League, the FA Cup (the Football Association Challenge Cup), and the English Premier League – in one season.
Sports, business and education
Last weekend, Gary Neville, who is reported to be the project leader, confirmed the project, but refused to give more details: “I have been working on a feasibility study for some months on an exciting educational project, but by no means is it ready to speak about in detail,” he said.
A source close to the project said: “Gary and the wider class of ’92 are hugely committed to opportunities for young people. They were given opportunities when they were young men. They are keen to ensure that the next generation have the ability to succeed at the highest level.”
The university will offer media, physiology, sports management, and business degrees, but will specialise in sports studies.
The Times also reported that developing “a strong work ethic” among undergraduates is likely to be part of the teaching philosophy. Of his time at Manchester United, Neville has said: “The thing Alex Ferguson [the manager] always told [us] was ‘be proud of working hard’. And even approaching 70 years old, he was first in at 6am and last out at night.”
As for the name, the Manchester Evening News (MEN) reported that sources privy to the project said the name will pay homage to the Manchester United team that won the FA Youth Cup in 1992 – University Academy ‘92, or UA92 for short.
It is also understood that they are searching for possible locations to house as many as 5,000 students and residence halls in Stretford, Trafford as well as Chester Road, although no specific sites have been decided on.
The Class of ’92 teammates have worked together in various ventures after their time at the prolific English football club. Several of them bought Salford City Football Club and Gary Neville launched Hotel Football, near Old Trafford in Manchester, along with Ryan Giggs.
In 2013, all six Manchester United teammates took part in “The Class of ’92”, a documentary film on the rise of their football careers, as well as their friendship outside football.
“They have stayed in touch and done things together over the years but it is Gary who has turned the ‘Class of ’92’ into a brand,” said Jonathan Northcroft, football correspondent for The Sunday Times.
“This idea is red hot at the moment, which is getting young people who want to work in sport … and giving them a better pathway to a future career,” he added.