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Gary Neville opens up on his fears for Manchester United as Glazers remain

Neville has been an outspoken critic of the Glazer family’s ownership of Manchester United.

Gary Neville

Kevin PalmerSunday World

Manchester United fans rejoiced at the prospect of the Glazer family ending their tenure as the club’s contentious owners, but club legend Gary Neville fears they may be backtracking on those plans to sell.

Speaking on the latest edition of The Overlap, the Sky Sports analyst suggested United’s fans have every right be be concerned that the Glazer’s are preparing to get fresh investment in the club rather than sell up.

Sheikh Jassim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the chair of Qatar Islamic Bank, confirmed the submission of a bid to buy 100 per cent of the club last month and Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS Group are also in the running to buy United.

“I am concerned about the rumours that some of the Glazer family don’t want to sell,” said Neville.

"One of the rumours we heard about before Christmas was that they were going to stay, and try and find ‘strategic investment’, which is something FSG have mentioned at Liverpool.

"That means you buy part of the family out, you leave Joel and Avi Glazer in, but Joel and Avi will retain control of the club. That’s a nightmare scenario.

“I would advise any investor who’s coming in, wanting to take a minority stake and leave Joel and Avi in - they will be very unpopular people and their brand will be damaged enormously because the fans are not going to accept it.

“Manchester United fans are hugely fearful that the club won’t get sold. There were huge renditions of ‘Glazers Out’ at the last match. It’s not in doubt that Manchester United fans want a change of ownership.

"I started to doubt it (proposed sale) last week when the club put the ticket prices up – I read a lot of replied from United fans saying that it was business as usual and they have to think about FFP, which is fair as there has to be an increase in revenues to make sure Manchester United can invest more in players next season.

“They’ve just appointed a director of operations, which is a senior position within the club which I thought that was strange, as surely, they’d wait and see if the sale is going to go through in the next month or two.

"Then they’re raising ticket prices, taking criticism that they won’t benefit as they would’ve sold the club by then. The belief that putting the prices up will mean that Sir Jim Radcliffe or the Qataris will pay more money is rubbish – they’re already paying triple or quadruple the value that the club is worth.”

Neville, who owns English League Two side Salford City, admits he is disappointed by the evolution of the English game, as top clubs now all look set to be owned by big money investors or oil rich states.

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"The only thing football fans can rely upon is the rules that are put in place to control owners,” he added.

"We can’t control who sells one private business to another. I wish every football club in this country was owned by local businesspeople or fans.

“We can potentially affect and impact the governance of football, which means it puts controls and sustainability measures in place and keeps a competitive period through an independent regulator, who has the best interest of the game at heart.

“If that happens, it then could be that the independent regulator says that every football club has an element of fan ownership – maybe 15%-20% to start with – and every owner must put up a seat on the board and 15%-20% value of their club. It may be that it can’t be afforded by a lot of fans, but at least you can put it up.

“There has to be a cost-control put on clubs otherwise you would have a disparity and it would take away football’s competitive edge. This is where the game needs proper regulation, sustainability measures, and real-time financial monitoring.

“Clubs should be allowed to invest to get up to the level of the top teams – Brighton’s owners should be able to invest so they can compete with Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City.

“It wouldn’t feel right if we [United] suddenly had an ownership that came in and we started spending a billion pounds every transfer market, signing the five best players in the world, and winning the league every year. That’s not protecting the English Pyramid, that’s destroying English football.”

The full video of Part 3 of The Overlap In Focus is available to watch on YouTube.

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