Gill defends ‘sensible strategy’

United confirmed another major sponsorship deal on Monday when

Turkish Airlines were announced as the Red Devils airline partner.

Aside from pocketing another sizeable cheque, United will also

benefit from the use of Turkish Airlines planes for European trips,

plus summer tours. At a time when other major airlines,

particularly British Airways, are continuing to feel a financial

squeeze, it says much about United’s pulling power that they are

still able to complete deals most of their Premier League rivals

can only dream of. It flies in the face of accusations from those

behind the hugely successful green and gold campaign that United is

badly run. And while the Glazer family will continue to attract

hefty criticism for the debt mountain they built in order to

complete their controversial takeover in 2005, Gill is staunch in

his defence of them. “People presuppose we have financial

problems,” he said. “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.” It has been

argued by Keith Harris, part of the Red Knights group who aim to

wrest control from the Glazer family, that player sales will become

inevitable as the interest on PiK notes taken out by the Glazer

family begin to bite. Yet Gill insists the Glazers are totally

aware that United can only carry on being attractive commercial

partners if Sir Alex Ferguson is allowed the finances to maintain a

successful team. “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.” The Glazers do not need to be

told United is a worldwide phenomenon, whose reach far outweighs

any company of comparable size. It means United are still an

attractive vehicle to be attached to, as the presence of Wayne

Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher, Park Ji-sung and Nani at this

afternoon’s launch made obvious. “We have 333 million followers and

yesterday we celebrated 100 years at this great stadium,” said

Gill. “Our history and heritage means we can bring a lot to the

table. “There is also a professionalism about us, so, whilst we are

in an economic downturn, there are still many successful companies

in the world who are investing in the future. “We are one of the

quality partners big entities can still associate with.”