In full and unabridged, Gary Neville’s headline-making views on Financial Fair Play regulations and the prospect of Man City overturning their ban from European competition…
Where do you stand on Financial Fair Play?
Gary Neville: “I’ve had a long-held view on FFP. People would say it’s because I’m the owner of Salford City and essentially we would still be in the Northern Premier League if we weren’t able to invest more, even though it’s not applied at that level.
“But the idea that City are not able to invest the money of the ownership, I disagree with. I’ve always thought FFP is the wrong way to apply the financial rules.”
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So why was FFP brought in originally?
Gary Neville: “My hometown club Bury went bust last year, and they’re obviously a club close to my heart, and I think FFP was brought in essentially to stop clubs from going bust.
“But there are different ways of achieving that. If owners sign up to contracts, they should have the money in place to fulfil those contracts. I think Manchester City’s owners have got that.
“If you look at Chelsea, City, Leicester and Blackburn going back to the days of Jack Walker, we would never have seen the emergence of these clubs below Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal, who have all the history, revenue and the tradition to be able to compete under FFP.”
What are the negatives of FFP?
Gary Neville: “FFP stifles investment into football clubs that can stimulate communities, like Blackburn and clubs like that.
“We’re saying essentially that we should create a status quo in football – almost like a franchise.
“I think the top clubs in Europe, like Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Real Madrid – they would take football towards a franchise-type model if we didn’t have the emergence of clubs with owners who can invest.
“There are negatives with that, and there have been horror stories where owners essentially have invested into clubs and they’ve not followed through with their commitments – that’s got to be stopped.
“There are ways of stopping that without applying FFP. So I’ve got a problem with FFP to start with, and I have for seven or eight years. I don’t think it’s the right way to apply it.”
Will Man City succeed in getting the ban overturned?
Gary Neville: “I think City will beat UEFA. I have no faith in UEFA to be able to do the right thing. I think it will be overturned.
“I have no faith in them whatsoever, I think they are a hopeless organisation who just apply erratic disciplinary sanctions.
“I think City will beat them in the courts. It will get stuck in the courts for some time, but I think City will win in the end.”
But UEFA have stated that FFP was introduced in 2011 to restrict ‘some of the worst excesses of the game’. Michel Platini spoke about ‘financial doping’ and tried to encourage responsible spending…
Gary Neville: “To suggest that Manchester City could ever catch Manchester United through sustainable organic growth is nonsense.
“Manchester United are so far in front with revenue, with scale, with fanbase, with everything compared to City. The only way City could ever get to a level playing field with Manchester United was through owner investment.
“Do I like it from a point of view that I want Manchester City to succeed? No, because I would rather Manchester United be successful, but the idea of being anti-competitive in football is ridiculous.
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