Gary Neville reveals ‘biggest concern’ about Manchester United takeover
Gary Neville says that his “biggest concern” is that the Glazer family will remain as owners as Manchester United despite fielding a number of offers to buy the club.
The Glazers announced last year that they would consider investement or a total sale of the club, with a number of bidders confirmed to have tabled interest.
They include British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, owner of Ineos, and Qatari Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani.
The current owners have reportedly valued Manchester United at around £6 billion, but Neville fears that the Glazers may not favour fully selling the club.
The former Manchester United right-back feels that they may instead be courting minority investment that would allow the more active members of the ownership of the group to remain in control at Old Trafford.
“I think what scares Man Utd fans most is the feeling this Man Utd ownership are running this process to drive a massive price up to try to somehow establish a level which means two of them can stay in and the rest of the family that want out can be bought out by an American fund who wouldn’t mind owning a minority or significant share but not the entirety of the share,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“That’s the biggest concern. The whole emphasis at this moment in time from Man Utd fans is this has to be the end of the Glazer ownership.
“They’ve run out of money, they’ve not invested in the stadium… the fans want a new stadium, whether that’s Old Trafford refurbished or a new one rebuilt, we need new facilities. Man Utd’s stadium is behind a lot of the big [clubs] in Europe.
“The sporting project they’ve failed on in the last 10 years since Sir Alex Ferguson left. It’s doing quite well at the moment, third in the league but it’s not where Man Utd want to be.
“I still think there is a focus that this isn’t one big charade that the Glazers are running to try to establish a value which would be for their brothers and sisters to exit and the couple that want to stay in to stay. There’s a priority at this moment in time for them to go.”
The Glazer family completed their majority takeover of Manchester United in 2005, and have proved increasingly unpopular among supporters in recent years.
After the passing of Malcolm Glazer in 2014, the club has been owned by his six children: Avram, Joel, Kevin, Bryan, Darcie and Edward Glazer.
Among the confirmed bidders for the club is Sheikh Jassim, chairman of one of Qatar’s largest banks and a son of a former prime minister of the Middle Eastern country.
While Neville believes that it is fair to have concerns about Qatari investment, the pundit thinks “the horse has bolted” on state ownership of clubs, suggesting an overhaul of football governance to allow greater control of spending would be preferable to blocking any potential takeover.
Neville explained: “We need to look at the owner funding model and see what can be done with that so we have sustainability and we don’t have wages being increased by nation states that have got trillions of pounds - but still keeps a competitive field in the Premier League.
“Keep a cap and control on the clubs like Man Utd, Man City and Newcastle, who may have nation-state involvement, but allow other clubs to come up to their level of spending if they’ve got a wealthy owner that wants to come in, ie: Jack Walker at Blackburn all those years ago.
“There is a lot to go into when you start talking about all these issues but my priority at this moment in time is to get a regulator into English football so there is some level of controls brought in for whoever the owners are.
“We can talk about state ownership at Man Utd but we have already got two state-funded clubs in Newcastle and Man City. They’ve been allowed to come in already, so I find it difficult to say Man Utd shouldn’t on the other hand have a Qatari ownership.
“The horse has bolted in that respect, when Abu Dhabi came into Man City 15 years ago and Saudi Arabia came into Newcastle two years ago.”