Gary Neville has hit out at Manchester United’s chief finance officer Cliff Baty, after comments made about the distribution of wealth in football.
Baty spoke last week in opposition to plans to overhaul how revenue from the Champions League and Europa League is carved up.
He believes the proposals would penalize bigger clubs like United, ahead of possible changes which could kick in from 2024.
Neville responded on social media to suggest Baty’s priorities were all wrong.
Neville criticizes Cliff Baty
Baty was appointed as Manchester United chief finance officer in 2016 and has so far survived the changes taking place behind the scenes at Old Trafford.
Quoted by Sports Pro Media, Baty said the proposals to alter the revenue split to coincide with the new Champions League formats, would not be good for bigger clubs. A reduction in revenue awarded to teams based on historical success, is among the ‘drastic changes’ being put forward.
He explained: “From our perspective is that [the current split] gives us a degree of certainty that helps in terms of sustainability, and all the discussions that are happening around financial sustainability and financial fair play in football.
“If you take that away, it’s going to increase volatility and it’s going to be more difficult for us to manage.
“If you’re changing the distribution and wanting more money, I think you’ve got to be careful what you’re doing there. We all know where the value is created, let’s not kid ourselves.
“I think we should put more money down, I totally agree with the sentiment, but the value is created at the top. So if you start changing that, and making it more difficult for the bigger clubs to perform, it’s hard. ”
Baty is trying to look after Manchester United’s interests, but that does not mean his arguments are morally right.
He suggests that the bigger clubs deserve the most television revenue because they help broadcasters attract the bigger audiences. Even if this is true, it does not necessarily mean United actually deserve to receive money they do not justify earning.
Neville, a co-owner of League Two side Salford City, believes Baty’s comments are fundamentally wrong, and that Baty would be better served focusing on fixing Manchester United’s debt.
Neville has his own interests in mind, supporting wider distribution of funds away from top clubs, but that is not to say he is incorrect.
Recent accounts published at the end of March show Manchester United’s debt is £ 494.8 million, up from £ 455.8 million a year earlier, an increase of 11 per cent, per The Guardian.
Losing guaranteed revenue from European competitions would no doubt be damaging to United, as Baty points out, but it’s unclear what the club’s plan is to actually start reducing the club’s increasing debt, which keeps on rising under Glazer ownership.
As Neville points out, coming up with a plan to address this long-term, should probably be the club’s top priority, rather than looking to sticking plaster solutions to prop up the club’s finances.