Gill ignores growing militant movement to join Glazers

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The Independent Football

David Gill has indicated to the Glazer family that he will remain as Manchester United's chief executive "indefinitely" and will strive to make the post-takeover period as successful as possible, despite fresh threats being made against him by militant United fans.

Gill returns to Manchester today after three days of talks in Florida with Malcolm Glazer's son, Joel, about the future of the club.

Their discussions were last night described by a source in the Glazer camp as "constructive". "He [Gill] has agreed to carry on indefinitely," the source said.

It remains to be seen whether Gill, a United supporter, will be comfortable in the long term working for the Glazers, who may alienate fans with ticket price increases and a possible stadium sell-off. One theory says not, because he was opposed their buy-out and disapproved of their "aggressive" business plan. The counter-argument is that he is best-placed to protect the club from within.

But if he does stay, he is likely to become a target of criticism, if not worse, from militant anti-Glazer supporters who see him as a "collaborator". One group, the Manchester Education Committee, has issued a new veiled threat against him. "Certain elements of United's support are currently being kept in check, but the Committee can give no guarantee of this in the long term," the group said in a statement. "To that degree, David Gill should be aware that personal information he placed in the public domain in a conversation with a shareholder during November's AGM could prove extremely costly."

The nature of that "personal information" has not been confirmed, although it might simply be that Gill voiced explicit opposition to Glazer. Though such a revelation may be embarrassing, it would hardly wreck his position. The Glazers are aware Gill disapproved of their business plan and have engaged in lengthy talks to sell it to him.

The MEC's statement added: "The Committee's intelligence network has been compiling dossiers and information over recent months ready to implement Operation Uranus, the result of which will render the club ungovernable. All senior figures within the club are considered 'fair game'. All such intelligence will be disseminated to maximum detrimental effect."

Like the Glazers' business plan, the threats remain opaque and short on detail. The MEC's statement ends: "The Committee has no intention of, nor any necessity to, race into hasty actions. The deed is now done. The payback will be immense."

Neither United nor Glazer are taking the MEC seriously, with sources from both parties yesterday rubbishing MEC claims of a face-to-face meeting between Joel Glazer and Sir Alex Ferguson at United's Carrington training ground last week. "Bullshit" and "logistically impossible" were the verdicts.

The Glazer camp is also dismissing reports that Sir Bobby Charlton may be off-loaded, or that they may change kit colour. "They know they need figures like Sir Bobby on board," a source said. "And do you really think they'd change kit when they've called their holding company Red Football Limited?"

Glazer's advisers have told him that engaging with fans would help thwart negative speculation in what they admit is as an "information vacuum."

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