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May 28, 2010

Gill bemoans "tiring" United protest movement

Manchester United chief executive David Gill believes the 'green and gold' movement at Old Trafford will fade away, labelling it a "visible minority'' and claiming that many of the supporters do not even know why the colurs are sported.

• Glazers: United not for sale

The fans' group against the Glazer family's ownership of the club gained momentum last season with an increasing number of supporters wearing the green and gold scarves at United matches, representing the club's early incarnation as Newton Heath.

Gill believes, however, that many of the supporters who wear the scarves do not fully understand the meaning of the protest.

The 52-year-old also denied assertions that the debts the Glazers have saddled on United - reported to be around £500 million - are inhibiting the club's progress, and claimed quarterly figures due to be released today will show the club has the money to fulfil boss Sir Alex Ferguson's summer spending.

"The green and gold campaign and the momentum behind that can get a bit tiring,'' Gill told The Independent. "We understand people's desire to protest and I think it is a minority. It's a visible minority in the stadium.

"Would we prefer not to have them [green and gold scarves]? Yes. They have a right to protest. A lot of the fans clearly care about the club and that is a strength.

"But a lot of the other fans want to know that the team is playing attractive football, exciting Manchester United-style football, winning football. Who owns it is a bit irrelevant to them.

"I think that [the green and gold] minority will go away. A lot of people understand what it means but a lot of them don't.''

Regarding the financial plight of the club, Gill added: "I firmly believe that the financing we have in place and the growth we have seen in our commercial operations, even with the [annual] interest of £45 million, we can sustain that and still be a top, top club.

"We can invest in the players, invest in the training ground - we have plans for that - invest in the stadium and do those things.

"The money is definitely there. The results for the quarter ending March 31 will show the figures are about £95million cash. We are not in a situation where Alex is restricted in what he wants to do with the club.''

Gill also moved to discredit the Red Knights group that are aiming to takeover the club, saying their ambitions are doomed to failure.

"It [the Red Knights plan] is not an easy model when you get all those people to sign up,'' he said. "There are different levels of investment. To then say, 'we are going to involve the fans'? It is not easy.

"I have experienced running a football club and I do firmly believe that short, sharp decision-making is what is needed. Whether you are buying a player or whatever, you need to get on and do it.

"Also the people involved [with the Red Knights] clearly have an ego about them and when people have that sort of money they want to be involved in decision-making.

"They are not going to do it just for seats in the boardroom and they are going to want to protect their investment. That's quite an interesting challenge.''

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