Manchester United chief Gill gives Red Knight Harris the order of boot

04 March 2010 11:34

Manchester United chief executive David Gill hit back at the Red Knights plotting to take over Old Trafford, dismissing their plans as unworkable and launching a personal attack on the group's figurehead, Keith Harris.

As it emerged that the number of anti-Glazer campaign members signed up to the Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST)has soared beyond the 90,000-mark, Gill defended the owners and insisted those hoping to buy out the Americans are wasting their time.

He saved his most withering comments for Harris, a football Mr Fixit who has been involved in takeovers at Chelsea, Aston Villa, Manchester City, Newcastle and West Ham.

Protest: United fans have been wearing green and gold in defiance of the Manchester United owning Glazer family

He saved his most withering comments for Harris, a football Mr Fixit who has been involved in takeovers at Chelsea, Aston Villa, Manchester City, and West Ham.

Discussing problems under Thaksin Shinawatra and West Ham's Icelandic owners as well as Harris's ill-fated spell as Football League chairman, Gill said: 'His track record in football isn'tanything to write home about.

'Keith Harris will go anywhere there's a bit of publicity around. We know that and we accept that. That's his modus operandi.

'We're aware of Jim O'Neill, who was on our board before thetakeover, and Mark Rawlinson was our adviser. These are credible peopleand they do what they think is in the best interests of the club, butit's not going to take them anywhere if the Glazers have no wish tosell.

'That's not to say that people like the Red Knights won't thinkthey can put a plan to them. But unless the owners want to sell -they've given no indication to me at all that's the case - then theycan't buy the asset. It's not for sale.'

VIDEO: Gill speaks.

Robust defence: David Gill at the Soccerex conference

Gill also insisted the Red Knights' business model is impractical because it would involve too many people making decisions.

He said: 'The idea of having 20, 30 or 40 very wealthy people owningand running United, I don't know how it would work. Key clubs -Abramovich at Chelsea, Mansour at Man City, Berlusconi in Milan - haveclear single decision-making. It's quick and efficient.'

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Gill was speaking at the Soccerex convention in Manchester where hewas escorted by bodyguards amid fears of violence from the anti-Glazermovement.

He admitted fierce opposition to the Americans and that the greenand gold campaign is having an impact, but insisted United aredetermined to keep it business as usual.

'It affects us,' he said. 'But we've got to get on. My message tothe staff is continue to do your jobs. I don't think the opposition ismisguided. We understand it. We've experienced it for many years, likewhen Murdoch tried to take over in 1998.

'The (MUST) support will continue. It's there, we can see it.Whether it disappears when there's a realisation the owners are herefor the long-term, we'll have to see. Would it be better if it wasn'tthere? Yes. But does it affect our day-to-day lives? No.'

Gill said the recent £500million bond issue left United well placedto cope with debts of £716m and added: 'In an ideal world, would peoplelike not to have a mortgage on a house? Yes. But a lot of people havemortgages and they enjoy the benefits of owning that house.'

Membership of MUST was up from 54,000 on Tuesday to more than 90,000yesterday, with more people joining in two days than in the first 10years.

Result: United celebrate winning the Carling Cup

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Source: Daily_Mail