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Feb 20, 2013

Fans' trust: Gill made 'major contribution'

The Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST) chief executive Duncan Drasdo has said David Gill made a "major contribution to Manchester United".

• Blog: Nani magic downs Reading

Gill announced that he would step down from his role as chief executive this year after ten years in the post, but will remain on the club's board.

Drasdo said Gill has been involved with the club during successful times over the course of his 16 years of service since arriving as finance director in 1997, but added that, nevertheless, "opinion is split among United fans".

He said: "You can't argue with the fact that his period as CEO has coincided with our greatest period of success on the pitch.

"The manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, has in large part driven that, but we have to commend the work of the commercial team off the pitch too and, of course, the all too often overlooked role of the support of loyal Manchester United fans.

"We've had a long relationship with David Gill although for the last eight years, regrettably, there has been no direct dialogue.

"Prior to the Glazers' takeover, MUST had a very good working relationship and on a personal level we liked and respected him but, despite his initial strong resistance, when the crunch came we ended up on opposite sides of the takeover barricade.

"Undoubtedly many fans were unhappy that he didn't stand down on principle and appeared to make a U-turn on his previously vehement opposition to loading debt onto our club.

"Presumably he balanced up principle versus pragmatism and then made his decision and, whether we agreed with that or not, it should not prevent proper recognition of his major contribution to Manchester United football club.

"However, we also can't ignore the frustrations we've had as supporters under the Glazers' ownership following a takeover that has cost our club well over £500 million.

"That is a huge sum of money, lost through payments related to their debt and also directly to Glazer family members, while at the same time ticket prices rocketed and net player investment fell dramatically relative to turnover.

"But perhaps the major frustration has been the lack of dialogue between the independent democratic fans groups and the club's senior management and owners."

He said the club's new CEO, Edward Woodward, "is clearly a very capable operator" and "perhaps he will be less encumbered by baggage from past events and thus find it easier to seek out the win-win opportunities that could be unearthed if the club (and its owners) properly respect and communicate with their fans".

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