Manchester United will finally be able to end their embarrassing involvement with the Lafayette building in the centre of Dublin when their 15-year lease comes to an end in 2015 – 13 years after their store closed.
The world famous club has been paying dearly for signing long-term contracts back in 2000 to lease most of the landmark building at the junction of Westmoreland Street and D’Olier Street for their own store.
Though the millennium-year venture was launched with an elaborate street party, the business folded in about two years. The club has since been paying an annual rent of €520,000 under the 15-year lease which finally runs out in August, 2015.
Even then the club will still have to fork out a further penalty of €390,000 – the equivalent of nine months rent – to finally end the leasing arrangement with Treasury Holdings, the property company headed by Johnny Ronan and Richard Barrett which is now insolvent.
Manchester United's final rental bill of almost €8.2 million – not to mention a substantial rates contribution – will be more than double the asking price for the 19th-century Lafayette building when it is offered for sale this week on the instructions of a receiver appointed by Bank of Scotland Ireland.
Rod Nowlan of commercial agents Bannon is inviting offers of about €3.5 million for the six-storey over basement building which has an overall rent roll of €625,453.
More than €100,000 of that is paid by the Blood Donation Clinic for the use of two upper floors.
Retail agents Michael Harrington, who advised United on the letting, said the deal was agreed at a time when the club looked like being taken over by BSkyB and had aspirations of becoming a global sports brand.
The club made unconditional commitments to open two other stores abroad at the same time as the Dublin outlet.
After the Dublin shop ran into trouble, the business was sublet to Roches Stores and the Red cafe in the basement was taken over by Fitzers. The changes made little difference and the businesses duly folded.