Fans will be able to rent Best's childhood home for holidays
THE FAMILY of football legend George Best has welcomed the news that his childhood home is to be turned into tourist accommodation.
The modest terraced house in the Cregagh estate in east Belfast has been bought for £100,000 by a local community organisation, which plans to rent it out for short holidays to football fans from all over the world.
The three-bedroomed property has been restored to a 1950s look, to reflect what it was like when Best and his five siblings were growing up and will be available for rent next month, with one night’s self-catering accommodation costing £120, and £60 per night after that.
Best’s bedroom is decorated as it would have been when the 15-year-old left home to begin his career with Manchester United, with posters of Wolves, his then favourite football team.
The organisation which bought the house, Landmark East, is a non-profit company and a portion of the rental income will go to the George Best Foundation, a charity promoting sport, drug and alcohol-awareness among young people.
Norman McNarry, Best’s brother-in-law, said the family was happy that the development would benefit east Belfast.
“It will raise money which will ultimately go back into the local community, and it will help keep George’s memory alive,” he said.
“My wife Barbara and I have taken groups around the house this past lot of years, including fans from Russia, Japan, Nigeria, Italy, as well as England. Since George’s death, we have had raps on the door from all over the world.”
A precocious talent, George Best won a string of honours with Manchester United. In 1968 he lifted the European Cup and was named European Footballer of the Year. He later played for Northern Ireland but health problems associated with his chronic alcoholism blighted his later years and ultimately led to his death in 2005, aged 59.
Since then, the house at Burren Way has become something of a shrine, with football shirts, scarves and other memorabilia left there.
Commenting on the development, Ross Fothergill of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) said: “George Best’s family home is certified by NITB as tourist accommodation and we look forward to receiving an application from the owners for assessment under our quality grading system.
East Belfast MP, Naomi Long of the Alliance Party, also welcomed the move, but added: “I would like to see the idea further developed and a George Best-related tourist trail, for example.”
Neighbours in what is a quiet, residential area, also seemed positive. Liz Oslon, chairwoman of the local Greenway Women’s Centre, said: “People from the area think this is welcome news. Fans come to the house anyway, so it’s a good idea to let them stay and inject some money back into the local economy”.