David Gill, Manchester United's chief executive, has rejected claims by the Red Knights, the group of wealthy investors seeking to takeover the club, that the Glazers are working to an unsustainable business model at Old Trafford.
Gill yesterday mounted his latest defence of the running of the club after announcing a second major sponsorship deal – with Turkish Airlines – in less than a week. Last week the campaign to oust the Glazers from Old Trafford gathered momentum with the appointment of the Japanese investment bank Nomura to seek out potential investors on behalf of the Red Knights. David Beckham sporting a green and gold scarf after United's Champions League game against Milan also helped boost membership of the Manchester United Supporters Trust. Yesterday it was approaching 140,000.
"People presuppose we have financial problems," said Gill. "We do not believe that is the correct situation. We are very comfortable and we have a sensible business strategy that will continue for many years to come."
Gill also denied that the club's huge debts, incurred since the Glazers took over five years ago, will impact on the playing side – another of the claims made by the Red Knights. Keith Harris, one of the leading voices of the Knights, has said that the club will eventually have to sell players to cope with the debt levels. Last summer Cristiano Ronaldo was sold to Real Madrid for £80m, and the Spanish giants have recently been casting covetous glances in Wayne Rooney's direction.
"We fully understand what happens on the pitch has a real effect on what happens off it," he said. "Over the years, since the Premier League came into existence in 1992, we have had sustained success under Sir Alex Ferguson, with the great players he has coached and managed. It has produced significant financial returns that have been reinvested back into the team, the ground, the training ground and also the players; both in terms of new ones and new contracts for existing ones. We are lucky to operate in a sport that produces those results. Our history and heritage means we can bring a lot to the table."
Gill added: "There is also a professionalism about us, so, while we are in an economic downturn, we are one of the quality partners big entities can still associate with."