Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville has launched a passionate defence of supporters who protested against the club’s owners and says the Glazer family are a ‘danger’ to all of English football.
Sunday’s massive Premier League clash between United and Liverpool was delayed after angry fans blocked the route from the team hotels to the stadium and invaded the Old Trafford pitch, holding up ‘Glazer out’ banners, setting off flares and chanting against the owners after they tried to join the European Super League.
Neville had a close-up view of the protests having been inside the stadium, even exchanging words with a number of the fans, and the United legend gave his full backing to the protests and slammed the Glazers for their attempted coup.
Speaking on Sky Sports, he said: ‘I’ve never thought they were brilliant owners but I’ve always thought within football there are worse owners than the Glazer family.
‘However I think all football fans should unite today behind what Manchester United fans have done because honestly what [the Glazers] did two weeks ago was really dangerous for English football – we must not forget that.
‘They tried to walk away and create a closed-shop league that would have basically created a famine – a famine – in this country for every other football club. They tried to create a famine in English football, in Dutch football, in German football, in French football, all over Europe.
‘Those 15 clubs would have walked away from their leagues with that money and basically destroyed the ethos of the pyramid of relegation and promotion in English football. So that’s number one: it’s unforgivable what they did as a family two weeks ago.
‘I get Graeme [Souness’] point around them paying themselves a dividend. We could walk into the chippy down the road tomorrow, make a bid, they could sell it and we could own the chippy and the local public may not be happy with the new chips that they get – I get that principle of a free market.
‘However, the Glazer family two weeks ago tried to implement something that would have damaged every single community in this country that has got football at the heart of it. And that is why they are dangerous. Florentino Perez is dangerous, [Joan] Laporte, [Andrea] Agnelli – they are dangerous to the concept of equal opportunity and fair play in European football.
‘Let’s not forget what we’re arguing about here. Today there is anger, I would hope tomorrow it switches to mobilisation towards reform and regulation and behind a fan-led review.
‘When I talked two weeks ago about these two football clubs, Manchester United and Liverpool, they should act like the grandfathers of English football, demonstrating compassion, spreading the wealth through the [football] family, their experience, being fair. They haven’t done. They’ve demonstrated self-greed and tried to walk away with all the money themselves and left the [football] family struggling below.
‘That is not what you do at this football club or Liverpool football club. So whether the Glazer family have been good or bad, what they did two weeks ago is not acceptable and an apology is not good enough.
‘And Joel Glazer saying he wants to rebuild the trust with the football fans at this club: he never had the trust! He’s never communicated to them, he’s never spoken to them, he’s never said a word.
‘So today we can be angry, the game may not go ahead, the fans are angry. But they’ve protested peacefully and we have to accept that you’re allowed to protest in this country and it’s every person’s right. But tomorrow it’s about reform and regulation because there are six or seven people within English football who have it under their control and that control has to be taken away from them.’
Neville also slammed Liverpool’s owners, adding: ‘Let’s just talk about FSG a little bit. They’ve been part of four things in the last 12 months which are desperate signs, they are acting desperately behind the scenes.
‘They furloughed their staff – that is very un-Liverpool like – they tried to cut their players’ wages behind the scenes, they’ve gone for Project Big Picture and tried to change the 6+14 rule in English football. And they’ve now, along with the Glazer family, tried to create a European Super League – they are desperate actions from the owners of Liverpool football club.
‘I think they’re struggling at the moment through Covid obviously, they’re having economic issues like lots of companies and lots of businesses are all around the world. But they’re acting desperately, and at this moment in time – I accept that Manchester United fans are more angry with the Glazer family than Liverpool are – but the Liverpool fans need to see the danger of what FSG are doing because they’re acting as desperately behind the scenes.’
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