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Ron riches Fergie's to spend: Gill

Alex Ferguson can still count on the £80m received from the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to spend on new players in the summer, according to Manchester United chief executive David Gill.

United's owners, the Glazer family, counted the income from Ronaldo's sale as contributing to their profits last year, but Gill said the money was still there for Ferguson in the form of cash in the bank.

Gill also told the Red Knights group of wealthy fans they are wasting their time trying to buy the club.

He told a conference in Manchester: "We are looking at players all the time, the money from Ronaldo is sitting there in the bank account, we have been clear on that.

"But Alex has been very clear he is not going out to chase and overpay for a player just because everyone else thinks we should. He's a Scot, he wants value for money.

"We have spent a lot of money on Chris Smalling (from Fulham) and that's the sort of player we want to bring in -- a young player who we feel will develop as a player and hopefully give us service for many, many years to come.

"Alex is very comfortable with it. He would not be shy in saying he wasn't comfortable and we need to buy a player. We are a successful team and the way it's moved on since Cristiano left after six very successful years with us demonstrated why he's comfortable with what he's got."

Gill insisted the Glazer family do not want to sell the club, said they are running it "in the right way", defended the owners' £709m total debt and questioned the practicality of the Red Knights' plans for a takeover.

He also branded merchant banker Keith Harris, a key member of the group who has called for a fan boycott of United matches, as a "publicity seeker" and was scathing about his track record in football takeovers.


Gill said: "The Glazers have given no indication to me that they want to sell and in that case they cannot buy the asset, it's not for sale.

"The Glazers have no wish to sell and from our perspective they are running the club in the right way."

Gill accepted that some of those involved in Red Knights were credible but was scathing about Harris, who has been involved in a number of takeover bids of top-flight clubs.

He said: "We are aware of Jim O'Neill (Goldman Sachs' economic adviser) in that he was on our board before the takeover, Mark Rawlinson was our adviser at Freshfields (law firm). Keith Harris will go anywhere there is publicity around, we know that and we accept that, that's his modus operandi. But if you look at his track record in football I don't think it's anything to write home about."

Gill also questioned how a Red Knights takeover would work at United.

He added: "The Red Knights proposal, the idea of having 20, 30 or 40 very wealthy people running Manchester United, I don't know how it would work in practice.

"The better-run clubs are where there is clear single decision-making and it's quick and efficient -- Abramovich at Chelsea, Mansour at Manchester City, Berlusconi at AC Milan. The key decision-making at Real Madrid is not by all those fans but by the president and the same goes at Barcelona.

"Having a number of wealthy people involved -- they will all want to be involved in decision-making.

"I'm not sure what their end game is but the end game is irrelevant.

"The vast majority of the fans of Manchester United should be comfortable with what we are doing in terms of pushing the club forward and success on the pitch and making sure that we continue at the top of European and world football."