The best looking shop assistants were put on alert to expect an invite to one of the biggest football parties of the year. The same thing happened at Selfridges next door. They may never have met them, but for one night these young women stood a chance of swapping their lives as shop assistants to be the guests of champions, some of whom earn 400 times more than they do.
One by one, the invites for the event came; sometimes directly from a player shopping after training, or from a friend deputised to handpick the most attractive young women to "decorate" their party.
Such "harvests" are a part of a social scene involving footballers and would-be Wags (wives and girlfriends of footballers) which was thrust into a harsh spotlight this week after Jonny Evans, a United player, was accused of the rape of a 26-year-old at the club's Christmas party. Evans, 19, was released on bail pending further questioning and has not been charged. He has denied the allegations.
Manchester's boutiques and department stores have emerged as that scene's frontline and, according to the shopworkers, the reality of meetings with millionaire footballers can be far from a fairytale.