Ferguson welcomes 'sinners' to Old Trafford

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson has jokingly claimed he welcomes "all sinners" to Manchester United and insists he has no problem with the green and gold protests.

The Manchester United Supporters Trust, the chief opponents of the present Glazer regime, have reported a massive surge in membership over the last few weeks.

They now claim to have in excess of 100,000 supporters registered, fuelled partly by the Red Knights, a group of leading City financiers who are looking to raise in excess of £1billion to seize control at Old Trafford.

United chief executive David Gill slapped down the prospective buyers on Wednesday, when he insisted the present owners had no wish to sell, despite the massive debts incurred in their controversial takeover.

Ferguson has reinforced that view.

However, with some friends among the Red Knights, including leading investment banker Jim O'Neill, Ferguson understands what they are trying to achieve.

And he cannot see a problem with the protests themselves, insisting he would welcome anyone to Old Trafford provided they backed his team.

"We take all sinners," he smiled.

"I would even take City fans.

"I have no problem with protest. There were plenty of green and gold scarves on Sunday and I was delighted to see them supporting the club.

"We are quite happy. As long as they are supporting Manchester United they can wear whatever they like."

Thousands of fans have joined the green and gold protest against the Glazers by wearing the colours of Newton Heath, the club which predated United.

It is not the first protest by supporters - Ferguson remembers the attacks on former owner Martin Edwards and the successful attempt to prevent BSkyB buying the club in 1999.

The Scot feels the whole club changed once it was floated on the stock market in 1990.

"When United became a plc a long way back, they were always going to be bought," he said.

"People forget that point.

"Once you are a plc your company can be bought and people bought shares.

"The Irish trio bought shares. There were quite a few people stalking the club.

"But David Gill summed it up earlier this week. The club is not for sale. He has made it quite clear.

"The Glazer family have said it is not for sale.

"I have no issue with the Red Knights. I know some of them. I don't deny them their right to protest.

"If they want to try and buy the club that is entirely up to them."