Gill in clash with Manchester United fans

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The Independent Football

Manchester United chief executive David Gill got involved in a terse exchange with a fan during a visit to Birmingham University yesterday as the simmering anger over the Glazer ownership at Old Trafford rumbled on.

The row began when Gill was approached after a question-and-answer session about football finances and was asked to explain comments he put his name to when United were attempting to turn the Glazers' takeover bids down in 2004.

At the time it was felt the Glazers' business plan was too 'aggressive' and could put United at risk if targets were not met.

The words made little difference to the eventual outcome and, to the surprise of many, Gill continued as chief executive, a post he has held since 2003.

However, with annoyance intensifying over a debt Gill maintains is £360million, as opposed to the £700million sum that is claimed - a figure that includes debt levied against the Glazer family themselves, an agitated fan made his move on Gill, raising a series of questions during a feisty two-minute exchange.

Although Gill attempted to put across his stance, his assessment of the situation was repeatedly questioned.

In defending United's controversial owners, Gill countered: "How many leagues have we won in the last three years?"

He also questioned: "Why are they leeches?" when that claim was made about the American family.

During an expansive radio interview two weeks ago, Gill tried to reassure supporters about the club's financial position.

He insisted Old Trafford and Carrington would not be sold to an outside source, that talks would get under way shortly with star man Wayne Rooney over a new contract and that Sir Alex Ferguson was set to receive a summer transfer budget in excess of £100million should he wish to spend it.

The words have not appeased a growing army of supporters though.

A hugely popular 'Green and Gold' campaign has gained notable publicity, as well as taking the issue to a worldwide audience now so many supporters are wearing the colours of Newton Heath, the club United eventually became, during matches.

Red Devils officials insist 'anti-Glazer' sympathisers amongst match-day staff are not being targeted, although some stewards have been sacked for handing back banners they have been instructed to remove on safety grounds.

In addition to the Green and Gold campaign, there is also talk of a mammoth takeover bid being put together by a group of wealthy businessmen who have been dubbed the Red Knights.

Although no names have been put forward officially, one-time United sponsor and leading bookmakers Fred Done is said to be in the group, along with Keith Harris, a United fan who has put together a number of football takeovers down the years.