|Job||Uefa executive committee|
|ex CEO of Manchester United|
|Desc||In Gill’s 10 year tenure, Manchester United secured many key transfers that helped shape the club’s squad for years. Wayne Rooney, Nemanja Vidić, Michael Carrick, and David De Gea, just to name a few, were all monumental players for Manchester United|
|Colleague||Sir Alex Ferguson|
|Glazer||David Gill led the final doomed boardroom stand at Manchester United against the Glazer family’s takeover. He was the chief executive who went overnight from running a business that was debt-free to one that now supports £504m of the total £716m debt that the American owners borrowed in order to buy the club|
|Peter Kenyon||Previous CEO of Manchester United|
|Geoff Thompson||The England Football Association vice-president|
|Jim Boyce||British vice-president on the Fifa Exco in 2015|
2010 05 26 Retrieve
[Gill on the Glazer debt] I don’t think it is damaging and I think it is sustainable. It is ironic that the protests gathered momentum after an event [the bond issue that refinanced the £504m senior debt] that put the financing structure of the club on a better footing. The bond issue is clearly a better instrument. It is more flexible, it does not have the covenants associated with the bank debt we had at the time. The repayment date is 2017 rather than the next few years. The price for that was greater visibility and the document
Anyone who has worked in the City knows that when you are trying to raise money externally you have to be pretty clear about the risks [as United were in the document in January]. Sir Alex Ferguson retiring is clearly something that would be a major sea change at United and that is a risk. What that document did was bring all the risks together into a dozen pages and that is where we are at
I firmly believe that the financing we have in place and with the growth we have seen in our commercial operations – even with the interest [payments] of £45m [annually] – we can sustain that and still be a top, top club
We are not in a situation whereby Alex is restricted in what he wants to do with the club and his modus operandi as a manager. We have never said: ‘You can’t do that, we have to pay interest [on the debt]’. I can look you in the eye and say that. He would say exactly the same thing. People don’t believe it. We never said to him: ‘You can’t go for that player because he’s too much’
[On the fans’ banner that claims he said ‘Debt is the road to ruin’] Phil Townsend [director of communications] tried to find the original quote and he couldn’t. It was two sentences put together. What I would say was that it was a particular point in time. The model did change. It went [to the current] debt from no debt; I am not disputing that
As the takeover unfolded, the Glazers revised their model in autumn 2004 to less bank debt in May 2005 when it happened. The fans also put up a sign saying ‘David Gill – protecting his salary not Manchester United’. It’s not the truth at all. I have been a fan of the club all my life, I have worked there since 1997. I enjoy it and I know a lot of people there. We get on well. I work closely with Alex
[When the club looked at the Glazers business plan] We looked at the EBIDTA [earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation] and then took off the interest [payable by the Glazers] and it [the debt] was easily serviceable. The other supporting thing is they [the Glazers] fully buy into the fact that what happens on the pitch is crucial to their aspirations off the pitch. So whether it is a player contract or a transfer or investing in new [corporate] boxes there was never any equivocation
When Carlos Queiroz and I went to buy Anderson and Nani in 2007, I was [in Portugal] for the day, got on the phone to Joel Glazer and said we wanted to do it. We spent millions of euros in one day. They listen to you, you listen to them and you work together. The critical thing is there was no issue in terms of meeting payments and covenants
[On his son Oliver Gill, a professional at United, being abused by anti-Glazer protesters] When he was on the bench at Fulham [and his name was booed] he said he didn’t hear anything and he didn’t care. He is a young lad of 19. He is an intelligent boy. He doesn’t worry about it. He takes the view that if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer [the United reserve team coach] wants him to play he is OK and he will play.
He gets comments that he is not good enough – he may not be good enough – but Solskjaer is managing his career in the reserves and he picks him. I have never interfered in that aspect at all. Alex decides the contracts. It is no bad thing if he gets a bit of grief. If he makes it, that will be the least of his worries. He will get a lot more than that. Lanky git and all that sort of stuff!
[On being heckled by green and gold protesters at Birmingham University] That was unfortunate. Universities in this country are having to do a lot in terms of raising money and I helped them out. These guys [protesters] had an agenda, there was no discussion, they were putting their point over. Fine. It was a one-off. It was a two-minute exchange
[On suggestions that the Glazers are taking money out of the club to finance the personal heavy-interest, payment-in-kind loans – currently £220m – that they used to buy the club] All I can do is say what they [the Glazers] said in the offer document in 2005. That money we have discussed, particularly from the [Cristiano] Ronaldo sale, is still there in the business and there is no recourse to it [from the Glazers]. When we present our budget to the board the budget is basically the results of Manchester United Ltd and the bond interest. Full stop
I don’t wake up at night [worrying about the PIK loan]. That is what they put in place to acquire it. That is their responsibility. That is the situation. The money is in the club and they have no recourse. I have no reason to believe otherwise
[On the £9m the Glazers have taken out in management fees] It is an easy point to pick up on. I was interested to see that Randy Lerner has taken money out of Aston Villa. That is not mentioned. He has taken some interest out. That’s viewed as OK. I wouldn’t get hung up about it personally. This is where it all becomes judgemental
All I can say is we are investing in our team and contracts. That the owners have taken out that sum of money – I don’t concern myself with it
[On Jim O’Neill, the Goldman Sachs economist he once appointed to the board, who is now the head of the Red Knights] I know Jim, he is a passionate United fan. You know football attracts a lot of interest. It is regarded as ‘sexy’ – more so than writing an economic report about the developing world [O’Neill’s day job]. To have it [the Red Knights] so public is not the normal way things happen. In terms of broadcasting who is involved, what they are going to do and what they are going to pay is a somewhat strange way to go about it
[On the fans who say United should be run like Barcelona’s membership system] It does make me laugh when people talk about going to a membership model and say, ‘Look at Barcelona’. I have great respect for the big Spanish clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, but why are they so successful? Yes, they have a membership model and they change the president every four years. But that is not why they are successful; it is because they sell their television rights individually. They get well over €100m (£103.4m annually)
You look at the final league table and there are 25 points between Real Madrid in second and Valencia [who earn £38.7m] in third. They [Barcelona and Madrid] have got more money so, of course, they can attract the better players. We [United] have never done that and we don’t get the credit for it. The owners [Glazers] come from a very collective selling market in the United States. Even more collective than it is over here. They have always been supportive of the Premier League collective
2013 02 20 Retrieve
[Gill, who joined United as a finance director in 1997, said] It has been the greatest privilege to serve Manchester United for 16 wonderful years. I’ve experienced some incredible highs, such as the Treble in 1999 and the League and Champions League double in 2008, and lows, like losing the title with the last kick of the season last year. But that is what makes this club and this sport so compelling.
However, I have always been conscious of the fact that, as a member of staff, I was always just a temporary custodian of this marvellous institution. I am also of the view that all businesses need to refresh themselves with new management and ideas and after ten years in charge I believe it is appropriate for someone new to pick up the baton.
2015 09 17 Retrieve
[David Gill on dealing with media scrutiny as Manchester United chief executive] Football in particular has changed even in the past five years, to 24 hour news channels.
When I became chief executive the communications director Paddy Harveson went to work for The Royal Family so I had to hire someone straight away. I got criticised for not speaking to the press but I had a very good communications director. I didn’t not speak to them, but I did it in a controlled manner and on an irregular basis. I filtered everything through a chap called Phil Townsend, the communications director, who was first class.
That was how I dealt with that. It was a case of telling people things, ‘when we need to tell you them’, but, ‘we won’t feed the animals so to speak’. In this job you do get praise so it’s important to treat praise and criticism the same.
[q: David Gill on transfer deadline day, and why some clubs leave it so late to do business] I don’t know (why they do it so late). It is very difficult. To an extent when Alex and I were at United we always liked to do things as early as we could, but it wasn’t always possible.
By and large you try and do it early, particularly if you have a player coming in from overseas. Because you have got to integrate them into the club, get them a house and allow them to settle down. If you got it done early you’d know what your costs were going to be for the next financial year. But there are certain clubs who don’t do that. With Tottenham, I’m not speaking out of turn, and Daniel Levy, he would like to do that.
In 2008, when we won the Champions League, we decided that we couldn’t rely on Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo to score all the goals so went for another forward and that was Berbatov. I spoke to Daniel Levy in June that year, made an offer, and it went on for the whole summer.
It was a nightmare. There was a great picture my wife took of me, on holiday in Florida, on the phone to Daniel Levy, with my foot on a fire hydrant. In the end I felt it affected Spurs because we did the deal in the end, at midnight on deadline day, so Tottenham couldn’t get a replacement in. The way the deal got done was that Daniel needed a striker and asked about Fraizer Campbell. So Alex had to phone up Fraser and say ‘by the way Fraizer, do me a favour, you’re going to Tottenham now’. And that’s how it happened.
What I’m saying is that Daniel probably squeezed an extra million pounds out of us, but he probably could have got £29m or so two weeks earlier and allowed time to get a different striker and spend that money wisely.
There are lots of factors to it though. There are agents, clubs, but in an ideal world you would do it early. I do believe there is an issue with the transfer window being open after the season starts. I raised this with UEFA the other week. And I know certain managers like Roberto Martinez feel that way.
It’s not healthy for anyone. It’s not always easy to do it in World Cup and Euros years, but it should be feasible to close the window before the season starts. I would like to see it happen.
[q: David Gill on how deals are done] We would assess things every day of the year. Players around the world that we might be interested and also players who might be coming through our academy. Assessing the players we currently had in the team, their age, form, fitness, length of contract, too. The whole machine was feeding it.
The actual business was done in January or in the summer window, though. And the ultimate decision was quite rightly Alex 9484afd5836d307b314a404d745a9a68. Once he made that decision, I would go out and try and do the deals.
I would speak to Alex very regularly, once a day, twice a day some days, and would meet him every Friday morning very early. We had discussions about players. He would give certain priorities, like the character being harmonious, to an extent.
But the very fact that Manchester United were winning trophies on a regular basis under Alex, people wanted to come and play for him. The actual disposals of players, apart from Ronaldo, weren’t massive amounts. Players aren’t stupid. It’s obvious if they are not playing regularly that it’s time to move on. The issue of trying to value a player is about judgement. You rarely get the right price.
[q: David Gill on his relationship with Sir Alex] At the end of the day he is (was) the most important employee in the club. At the same time, Alex was very good because he understood that he couldn’t achieve what he wanted to achieve unless the other parts of the club were working well. The commercial side, the stadium side, investing in the training ground. He was astute in that sense but he also had the success that enabled him to take the long term view. We got on, and over time, you’d have to ask him this, but I think he respected my opinion on certain football aspects.
We had some run-ins though. If we hadn’t I don’t think we would have been effective. At the end of the day, we both wanted Manchester United to be as successful as it could be. If the team does well, you get prize money and a lot of extra income in. It’s all high margins so you can reinvest that back in the team, which is the most important part.
I think I walked out of his office once. The language was atrocious. But he called me a couple of hours later talking about something else as if nothing had happened. I thought, ‘fair enough’. He had a great ability – and it was certainly something I learned from him, even though I’m not very good at it – to move on very quickly. He could make his point, but once it was said and you either reacted or not, you got on with it and that was water under the bridge, which was important.
When we had a bad defeat on a Saturday, when Carlos Queiroz was the assistant manager, he would come in a bit down, but Alex would come in and would be thinking about the next game and lifting the spirits. You think that’s obvious, that’s easy, but to actually do it is not easy. He was very good at that.
[q: David Gill on the Glazer family] It was an interesting time when they took over. You got a lot of people who didn’t like the owners coming in because of how they structured it through leverage, through debt. I was criticised for staying on. But both Alex and I thought we could work with them and take it on.
In our experience with them, they never ever didn’t allow us to spend money. To buy a player was just one call. People don’t necessarily believe that because of the way they (United) are spending money now. But I always felt they were very easy to deal with. The private company situation was easy to operate within and they were long term in their view.
An example is when Manchester United set up MUTV, we wanted to de-risk our investment. The club owned a third, Sky owned a third and Granada/ITV owned a third, so they were funding it. What the Glazers wanted to do was retain 100 per cent ownership of it. So they bought out firstly Granada for probably above what it was worth and then subsequently Sky.
They were quite long term in terms of their outlook. The people who oppose them will oppose them for ever and we have to accept that, but what you have to do when running the club is to do it in a way that you think is going to make sure it is a continued success.
[q: David Gill on his favourite player he signed at United] I’m not going to name one, but in terms of favourites I like, it’s people like Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic. Patrice, in particular, really embodied what Manchester United was about. I always feel that the ones who did embrace coming into Manchester and England, and learning the language, were the ones who did better.
It used to annoy me intensely when a player we signed was still doing an interview in his mother tongue two or three years later to the British media. It was always a real buzz when you got a player in, though. There was something about it, especially when a player transformed the team or scored a winning goal.
[q: David Gill on leaving Manchester United] In 2013 I took the decision to step down as chief executive of Manchester United after 10 years at the club. For me it was the right time.
It’s very easy to stay beyond your shelf life. I always returned agents’ calls, even if I despised them, on the basis that they might have one player that we might want in two or three years time. But I was finding I was getting a bit more irritated by their calls.
You wouldn’t have seen it from the outside but I felt that in two or three years time that might have been noticed. It was time to move on. You also need someone with new ideas and so on. I thought, ‘I’ve had a fantastic time in football, learnt a lot, met a lot of people’, and that it was an honour and a privilege to work for Manchester United, the club I supported as a boy.
[q: David Gill on joining FIFA as Britain’s Vice President] I still felt I could do something in football and was on the board of the FA. UEFA – which comprises of the 54 nations – was the next step so I effectively became a member of the executive committee.
Playing a key role in that led to FIFA. I needed a lot of persuading to do it because of how the organisation was structured under Blatter’s leadership. I wasn’t at all comfortable. But I got a distinct impression that new people going into FIFA were ones who wanted to effect change. So I decided it was good to have British representation.
I was in the gym at the hotel in Switzerland, not the hotel where all the arrests took place, and sitting on a bike when a guy told me about all these arrests. I went back to my room and saw it all unfolding. It was quite difficult because the next day I was due to be formerly appointed.
I told them I couldn’t take my position. When I was about to sit down and write my formal resignation letter someone told me Blatter might be resigning so I didn’t bother writing my letter and have now taken up my position. And of course, Mr Blatter will be replaced in February next year.
FIFA is quite a simple product. It has one thing to sell – The World Cup. It’s a huge product don’t get me wrong. It has responsibilities as to how it sells it and what it uses the money for. So when you boil it down it can be organised in a much better, but there are lots of things wrong with it
[q: David Gill on whether it was a mistake for Sir Alex Ferguson and himself to leave Manchester United at the same time] A lot of people have said that. It was always going to be difficult when Sir Alex Ferguson left, I agree with that. When you’ve had that much success for so many years, we always felt that sort of transition was going to be very difficult. He was like a stick of rock through every bit of Manchester United. I was available to my successor Ed Woodward.
Hindsight is easy. If you look at it we won the league by 13 points (in 2013), and we had a good squad, but like any good squad it needed to be developed. The stability was there. But the decision was made. I told Alex I was going in January of that year and he told me two weeks later. We discussed it with the owners. I was clear on my reasons and he was clear on his. We were both available but it was always going to be a lot more difficult for the successor of Alex Ferguson than the successor of me.
[q: David Gill on David Moyes] Certain people could have possibly been kept on in terms of football roles. But it was always going to be difficult. Having said that, to win the league by 13 points, it was very disappointing to go down to 7th. He (Moyes) was hard working and very diligent and a very nice man. It was just unfortunate. That’s not a very Gary Neville sort of answer. He would have been a bit more to the point. But I feel I have got to be a bit more careful.
2015 12 30 Retrieve
[on Sir Alex Ferguson] What he has done for this club and for the game in general will never be forgotten