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Gary Neville has voiced his thoughts on the dividends set to be distributed to shareholders this Friday with around £11 million set to be distributed among those who own shares in Manchester United, the majority of which are held by six members of the Glazer family.
If there’s one man who you can guarantee to find the opinion of if you look for it, for better or for worse, it’s ex-Manchester United captain Gary Neville.
The former England star turned Sky Sports pundit is an incredibly outspoken character – and there are few more outspoken than him when it comes to either politics or Manchester United.
Gary Neville has in particular been openly incredibly critical of United’s owners in the last few years. Just a few weeks ago Neville was quoted as saying, “I blame the Glazers, they’ve left him (Woodward) in shop, they’ve left him behind the counter. You can’t have 10 years having a go at it, playing Football Manager. You can have three, maybe have four.
“If you’ve not had success you’ve got to change it. you can’t just change the manager, recruitment style. you’ve got to change yourself.”
The Glazer’s ownership has seen the Manchester United Gary Neville knew, loved and led fall into a million pieces, being completely overshadowed by arch-rivals Liverpool and noisy neighbours Manchester City in the last decade, with the two rival clubs winning six of the last nine Premier League trophies since the Red Devils last won the title in 2013.
Not only that, but Liverpool have got themselves to three Champions League finals and Manchester City themselves once with multiple semi-final appearances too.
When you compare this to United’s (lack of) success of late, only reaching the quarter-finals of the sacred competition once, and failing to qualify for the competition for five out of the last nine seasons, it reads dismally.
It’s not as if a lack of funds has been the reason the club cannot compete – there as been a billion pounds spent under the Glazer’s ownership, but in the words of Manchester United CEO Richard Arnold, “what's happened is that we've f**king burned through cash."
"You can't go to our training ground and say 'by the way, show me where that billion pound is' because I don't think we've done well with the money we've spent historically,” he told a group of fans he met at a pub on Saturday 18 June.
"I'm not here to defend Joel (Glazer) or the shareholders, they can speak for themselves," the CEO said; and Gary Neville certainly isn’t here to defend the Glazers either.
Taking to Twitter on Monday evening, Neville exclaimed, “The Glazer Family should NOT be taking £11m in dividends this Friday. It isn’t right with the investment needed in the team,stadium and training ground.”
The dividend payments come just days after it was reported that the club had lost around £1.3 billion in value.
With the club reportedly needing another £10-15 million to match up to Barcelona’s asking price for Frenkie de Jong, to take £11 million out of the club just a couple of weeks into the transfer window seems completely counter-productive, and considering the current backlash of fans, reckless.
Manchester United are the only club of its kind to pay out dividends to shareholders, and since the scheme started a number of years ago, it’s sucked over £130 million out of a club that’s approaching dangerously close to half-a-billion pounds of debt; debt which has not been paid off in years.
Neville doesn’t just rant for the sake of it though; he also offers a solution.
“The clubs cash position is low compared to previous years,” the ex-England start claims. “An announcement is needed to halt it for the next 3 years minimum.”
I’m sure if the club was doing spectacularly well, trophies were being hauled in and matches were being won home and away, the fans would have much less of a problem with the Glazer family and their dividend payments.
In the end, that’s what United fans are mad about – the club is sinking and the owners aren’t doing everything they can to fix it.
Halting dividend payments for the next few years to both let the club financially recover from the impact the Coronavirus pandemic had on both the football and worldwide economy and to appease the angry Manchester United fans seems such a simple and effective first step in the right direction towards building a more positive relationship with the fans.
Because if the Glazers do not plan to leave and sell the club any time soon, all logic points towards the notion that they should repair their fractured relationship with the fans by working alongside them to fix the broken mess that is Manchester United Football Club.
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