Manchester United boss Gill still refuses to talk with anti-Glazer groups
Manchester United chief executive David Gill has declared that he will continue to snub fan groups who are “at war with the owners.”
Gill leapt to the defence of the Glazer regime at Old Trafford, insisting the Americans had made United stronger since their 2005 takeover and claiming the debt they had saddled on the club has had “no impact” on Sir Alex Ferguson's ability to buy players.
The United board have refused to enter into dialogue with groups such as the Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) and the Independent Manchester United Supporters Association (IMUSA), who are fundamentally opposed to the Glazers' ownership.
This policy was challenged yesterday by a House of Commons Select Committee as part of a wider inquiry into football governance, with Gill asked whether he was simply avoiding engaging with those who disagreed with him.
He was unmoved, saying: “If we're going to be castigated for not speaking to one or two groups who have particular, very clear agendas, then so be it.
“We'll take the castigation.”
Gill was adamant United did respect the opinions of their fans and held forums with them three to four times a year to gauge — and often act upon — their concerns.
“We'd be naive and stupid if we didn't understand what the fans think, what they want and reflect that in our business policy,” said Gill, who insisted he had no problem with MUST and IMUSA members attending such forums as individual United supporters.
But he added: “At the same time, we're not going to engage in structured dialogue with organisations like that. I don't think it's appropriate or sensible. They're at war with the owners.”
Dismissing the rebels as “domestic” supporters, Gill said: “We've done studies that show we have 333 million followers around the world. Not everyone hates the owners. When we first went public in 1991, a lot of fans didn't like the club at that time. They loathed the Edwards family.”
Their current enmity is centred largely on the issue of United's ownership being leveraged by debt, for which the club pay annual interest in the region of £45million.
Critics argue that is money which could otherwise be spent on players or reducing ticket prices at Old Trafford.