The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has said the new Co-Op Live Arena is “a great idea” but has urged bosses to “work in a way that secures the future of live music”.

The 23,500-capacity Manchester venue, located opposite the Etihad Stadium, was initially due to open with stand-up performances from Peter Kay on April 23 and 24. Following a test event with Rick Astley, however, the comedian’s gigs were postponed until April 29 and 30 due to a failed power test.

A Black Keys gig that was scheduled for April 27 later had to be pushed back to May 15, and the Kay dates were delayed for the second time.

Last night (May 1), A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s concert was cancelled at the last minute because of a “venue-related technical issue” before it was confirmed that Olivia Rodrigo’s shows at the Co-Op Live this Friday and Saturday (May 3, 4) had been postponed. Rescheduled dates have yet to be announced.


Gary Roden, the boss of the new arena, also resigned from his role last week amid the slew of ongoing issues and controversies. The news came after he had previously faced criticism over his comments about grassroots music venues; arguing some of them were “poorly run”. Roden had also dismissed calls for a £1 ticket levy on all gigs arena-sized and above, which has been proposed to ensure the future of smaller venues across the UK.

In response, MVT CEO Mark Davyd told NME that he believed Roden’s remarks were “disrespectful and disingenuous”. He called out the irony of making such “ill-judged, unnecessary and misleading” comments on the week that the Co-Op Live Arena was forced to delay its launch following numerous logistical problems.

Davyd claimed at the time that the new arena had “declined invitations to engage properly in the discussion about the future of the UK’s live music ecosystem”. However, the Co-Op Live Arena eventually agreed to meet the MVT to discuss the proposed levy.


Now, the MVT has shared a new statement on social media, reflecting on the hardships the venue has faced and expressing its hopes for the future.

“It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the Co-Op Live Arena, but once the venue is open everyone will forget about that, and they can look forward to attracting thousands of music fans and offering amazing experiences to them,” it began.

“We are having discussions with all major arenas and operators, and once they’re safely open we will continue those chats with the Co-Op Live too.”

The message continued: “The levy conversation is one we started in 2018, and we had four years of research and preparation even before that, so are excited about these next steps. You can read more on this via”


In a separate statement, Davyd wrote: “This new venue is a great idea, and we need places like that. I simply want them to do that in a way that assists everyone and secures the future of live music.”

You can see the post above.

The comments from Davyd come after he recently praised Billie Eilish – who’ll play four concerts at the Co-Op Live Arena next year – for including a £1 donation to a US charity in her ticket prices. He said the “excellent initiative” proved there was some “leeway” in ticket prices for major shows to include a fee to “go back into the live music ecosystem”.

“This is an important piece of work, but we need to see it on every show the Co-Op Live [is] doing and every ticket they sell,” he added.

The case for the £1 ticket levy was presented to the UK Parliament in March, with the MVT arguing that “the big companies are now going to have to answer” for the scale of the problem faced by smaller venues.

As well as Eilish, it was announced this week that Alien Ant Farm and CKY had become the first American bands to add a £1 ticket levy to their UK tours. Last May, Enter Shikari shared details of a 2024 run of UK dates where £1 from each ticket sold was donated to the MVT.

Following the action from Enter Shikari, it was reported in December that Scotland was “seriously considering” a ticket levy on stadium and arena gigs to support grassroots venues.

Despite the ongoing issues at the Co-Op Live Arena, its owners are planning to build “the greatest arena in the world” in London. It comes after some historic grassroots venues have been forced to close down, with many still under threat of permanent closure.

A report published in January showed the “disaster” that had struck grassroots venues in 2023 – with 125 of them shutting down across the nation last year (approximately two per week).

Responding to Live Nation reporting its biggest year ever for concert turnout and ticket sales in February, Mark Davyd argued that “all 125” of these spaces “could have been saved for somewhere in the region of £3million; about $3.8million”.

“That’s just 0.06 per cent of Live Nation’s additional revenue this year,” he continued. “Not their total revenue, their additional revenue.

“That is the additional revenue Live Nation made in the year those venues closed down […] And even if you show them these maths they still insist that a sustainable grassroots sector is an unaffordable financial burden on the industry.”

A general view of Co-op Live Arena in Manchester, United Kingdom, on April 23, 2024. CREDIT: Ioannis Alexopoulos/Anadolu via Getty Images

He added: “The economic maths of the live music industry is completely bonkers and it cannot possibly continue.”

A spokesperson for the Co-Op Live Arena told Manchester Evening News that last night’s technical issue was caused by part of an air conditioning unit falling from the gantry inside the venue during soundcheck. Nobody was injured.

Olivia Rodrigo has since responded to her gigs at the venue being postponed, saying that she was “so disappointed” by the news.

Meanwhile, NME has spoken to some angry and disappointed live music fans whose plans have been impacted by the current situation – with one calling it “just a joke at this point”.

Discussing their experience at last night’s scheduled event, another told NME: “We travelled like two hours… it’s just poor. If you’re gonna cancel it, cancel beforehand, so we don’t spend money on getting here.

“There’s thousands of people stood outside and you cancel it half an hour after the doors were meant to be open?”

In other news, this weekend will see Frank Turner attempt to break the record for the most shows played in 24 hours in aid of the Music Venue Trust.