May 14, 2021

Man Utd

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Manchester United: Richard Keys accuses Gary Neville of ‘instigating a RIOT’ after defending protest

4 min read

Richard Keys has stuck the boot into Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville after he leapt to the defence of Manchester United fans who broke into Old Trafford to protest against the Glazer family – accusing him of ‘sparking a riot’.

United’s game against Liverpool was forced to be postponed on Sunday evening after hordes of supporters let off flares and smoke bombs outside the stadium, before a group stormed their way inside.

Supporters have vented their fury over how the Glazers have run the club over the years – with the failed bid to take United into the European Super League the straw that broke the camel’s back. Neville stood by the protesting group – calling it ‘a warning for all football owners’.

Richard Keys has slammed Gary Neville for defending United fans over Old Trafford protest

He accused the pundit and his colleagues of 'sparking a riot' rather than talking about football

Former Sky presenter Richard Keys (L) has slammed pundit Gary Neville (R) after he defended Man United fans for protesting at Old Trafford 

Neville defended supporters as they vented their fury at the Glazer family's ownership of the club, calling on fans to 'unite' and bring about reform in the game

Neville defended supporters as they vented their fury at the Glazer family’s ownership of the club, calling on fans to ‘unite’ and bring about reform in the game

He said some of the fans had protested peacefully and declared that supporters needed to ‘unite to make sure there is reform in English football’.

But his commented provoked anger from Keys – who once fronted the main coverage for Sky Sports before his accromonious departure in 2011 – with the beIN Sports host telling Neville and his colleagues to stick to ‘calling football matches’. 

He also took a swipe at his former employer, saying no one at Sky had the ‘courage’ to take issue with his words.

‘Enough Gary, I want to watch football matches not riots,’ Keys wrote on his personal website. ‘Plainly no-one at your primary employer has got the courage to say anything to you – so let me.

Gary Neville said some fans had protested 'peacefully' and warned of further demonstrations

Gary Neville said some fans had protested ‘peacefully’ and warned of further demonstrations

The ugly scenes caused United's Premier League game against Liverpool to be postponed

The ugly scenes caused United’s Premier League game against Liverpool to be postponed  

‘It really is none of my business who owns Manchester United, Arsenal, Valencia, Salford or Sheffield. With the exception of Salford, nor is it yours. Nor is it Jamie Carragher’s, Rio Ferdinand’s, Jake Humphries or Gary Lineker’s. 

‘Our job is simple and privileged. Our job is to call football matches. It is not our job to instigate riots. And make no mistake, what happened at Old Trafford on Sunday was a riot. And a disgrace. I hate to think what the reaction would’ve been had Liverpool fans been to blame.’ 

In a lengthy rant, Keys hit back at Neville’s claims the protest was ‘peaceful’, pointing out that some policemen had suffered serious injuries and questioned whether fans were really taking issue with the club’s involvement in the Super League. 

‘It was NOT a peaceful demonstration,’ he added. ‘One Police officer has been left with life changing injuries. He could’ve been blinded after being attacked by a thug wielding a broken bottle.

‘What was it all about? Was it a protest against the ESL? No. But some would have you believe that? If the protest was about the ESL then why have City fans not been out with their own wrecking ball? Or Chelsea fans? Or Spurs fans?

Supporters were furious at the historic club's attempt to join the European Super League

Supporters were furious at the historic club’s attempt to join the European Super League 

‘Was it a demonstration about the ownership of Manchester United? No. But some would have you believe that. It was a show of frustration that United are no longer the dominant force in English football.

‘The Glazers are not for me. But Sir Alex Ferguson never had a problem with them.’

He also queried why he hadn’t involved more fans on the board at Salford – the League Two club he co-owns, despite his criticism of the Glazers for leave the United faithful out of their decision making process. 

The furore around United’s Super League fiasco faw chief executive Ed Woodward resign, with fans now calling on the Glazers to quit alongside him – and Keys urged Neville to take up Woodward’s role to ‘show us how it’s done’. 

‘United are currently looking for a Chief Exec Gary – give it a go. Show us all how it should be done. And please don’t tell me you couldn’t work for the Glazers. You once did – and pocketed millions from doing so. That was the time to make your voice heard.’ 

Keys questioned whether fans were really taking out their frustrations on the Glazers (above)

Keys questioned whether fans were really taking out their frustrations on the Glazers (above)

He urged Neville to apply for Ed Woodward's chief executive role to 'show us how it's done'

He urged Neville to apply for Ed Woodward’s chief executive role to ‘show us how it’s done’

On Sunday, Neville had warned that there could be further protests and that the issue was ‘not going to go away’ because trust had broken down between the supporters and the Glazers – declaring ‘the fans have spoken’. 

‘It’s a warning to the owners of the football clubs. We know some fans came in and were reasonably peaceful,’ the former right-back said on Sky Sports punditry duty. 

‘The fans have spoken. It’s not going to go away. Fans don’t trust the owners of Manchester United, they don’t like them, they think the owners should leave. 

‘Beyond today, fans across the country need to unite to make sure there is reform in English football

‘We don’t want to hear about disturbances today but fans have had enough. The story today is that the fans have set the spark. Will they stop another game next time?’   

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