Gary Neville has told MP’s that allowing the FA to sell Wembley would be a ‘ridiculous’ decision, and that there are better ways to generate cash to reinvest in grass roots football.
The FA have received an offer from Fulham owner Shahid Khan for around £600 million, with the governing body retaining the rights for its ‘Club Wembley’ hospitality venture, something which is valued at around £300m.
However speaking to MP’s at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville has said that while he feels no emotional connection to the national stadium, that he is sure that there are better ways to generate money to fund grassroots football:
“If I’m talking as the ex-player Gary Neville, I enjoyed travelling round the grounds and playing in Sunderland and Old Trafford.
“So I’m not emotional about Wembley. My position is not related to my emotions as a footballer. It’s not a case of “we can’t sell it” from a football position. But the idea of raising £500m – that’s a pittance in football, and government.
“If the FA feels it has to sell a national asset, then that’s completely ridiculous, a nonsense. The numbers that have been provided suggest an extra £70m per year for 20 years on grassroots facilities. That’s £1.4bn.
“It should be £370m, £570m per year. This is just a small amount of money.
“Last year there was £2.5bn prize money in the Premier League. If we need £70m extra per year. Take it from agents’ fees, put a levy on them. Don’t sell Wembley. Or take £3.5m less from each club’s prize money. That would raise £70m. These days, £70m is a full-back. It’s ridiculous.
“That’s not being emotional. What’s next? Sell St George’s Park?”
“I wouldn’t want to be [FA chief executive] Martin Glenn making this decision.
“I feel for them that they feel they have to do this to raise this funding. Yes, I want the best coaches coming into our country, the best players here. I was inspired by playing with them.
“And I despair at the thought the FA has to scramble for ways to raise funds for grassroots football.
“I don’t believe in short-term. If £500m would last forever it would be different but these facilities won’t.
“The idea of investment is essential but has to be long-term play and the only true place to give people free and fair access is in schools.
“If we are talking about a long-term plan, then every school in this country must have 4G facilities and access to coaches.
“Sports are community hubs but they have been destroyed. School fields have been sold. We need them to be heart of the community.”