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The arena is part of a development around Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium
By Tom Mullen & Jeremy Culley
BBC News

The general manager of Manchester’s troubled Co-op Live arena has resigned after criticising smaller venues.

Gary Roden has quit his role days after a backlash over his comments in a BBC interview about “poorly run” grassroots music venues.

Comedian Peter Kay’s opening shows had to be cancelled this week as the £365m venue was not ready in time.

Meanwhile tickets for the arena’s first test event last Saturday were cancelled at the last minute to reduce capacity.

A statement from the arena said it does not “share the sentiment” expressed by Mr Roden and that “Co-op Live remains committed to grassroots music in Manchester and beyond”.

The statement thanked Mr Roden for his “help bringing the UK’s newest arena to live entertainment fans and wish him the best for the future” and said Rebecca Kane Burton, an ex boss of London’s O2 Arena, would be interim general manager.

Ahead of its grand opening shows, Mr Roden told the BBC he acknowledged the financial pressures facing small venues but added some were poorly run.

He also said there was no robust system to decide who would get a suggested subsidy of £1 from every arena ticket to support pubs and clubs, which the Music Venue Trust (MVT) is calling for.

Instead Mr Roden said the new arena would give £1m a year to the Co-op Foundation charity, which helps a range of causes, and would work with smaller venues on projects like training.

Peter Kay’s shows at the venue were pushed back

In response, the MVT told NME that grassroots music venues are not “poorly run”, and it is “disrespectful and disingenuous to suggest otherwise”, pointing out “insurmountable and highly specialist challenges” they face.

It said: “Obviously, the irony of making ill-judged, unnecessary and misleading comments about grassroots music venues on the day that the launch of their new arena has unfortunately fallen into such difficulties is not lost on anyone in the music industry, on artists, or on audiences.”

Kay was due to perform the first official events at the arena but it said work on its power supply was “a few days behind” schedule.

The comic’s performances were rescheduled for 29 and 30 April.

The venue, which will hold up to 23,500 people when fully open, apologised as Kay admitted to being “truly gutted” for the disappointment.

Kay added at the time that “obviously, it’s a brand-new venue and it’s important that everything is finished and safe for full capacity audiences”.

“Fortunately, we’ve been able to reschedule the shows to next week,” he said.

US rock band The Black Keys were still due to play the arena on 27 April, before Kay’s rescheduled dates.

The venue said that gig would have a 10,000-capacity and managers would use it to “continue to test the resilience of the venue and its operations”.

Olivia Rodrigo, Take That, Eric Clapton and Liam Gallagher are among other stars lined up to perform at Co-op Live in the coming months.

Harry Styles has invested in the development and advised on elements of the arena’s design.

Co-op Live has been built by City Football Group – in the shadows of Manchester City’s Etihad stadium. It is owned by billionaire UAE royal and deputy prime minister Sheikh Mansour; along with Oakview Music Group, co-founded by US music mogul Irving Azoff.

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