Neville warns MPs over Wembley sale

18 July 2018, 15:22

gary neville

Selling Wembley is a "short-term plan we'll regret forever", former Manchester United star Gary Neville told a panel of MPs in Westminster on Wednesday.

Speaking at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee hearing on the Football Association's plan to sell the national stadium, Neville described the proposed dividend for grassroots football as "nonsense and absolutely ridiculous".

"I despair at the thought that the FA board and management are sitting there and thinking that they have to sell Wembley to fund grassroots football," the 43-year-old said.

"They are talking about an extra £70million a year for 20 years - that's a pittance in football, it's a pittance in government, it's the price of a full-back."

American billionaire Shahid Khan offered £600million in cash for Wembley in April and said the Football Association can retain some of the hospitality income from the stadium, a source of revenue that would bring the total deal to £850-900million.

Khan, who also owns the Premier League's Fulham, wants to move his National Football League team the Jacksonville Jaguars to the iconic venue, which cost more than £750million of FA and public money to build.

The FA's board has announced this was not Khan's first offer but it was the first of sufficient value for it to recommend, with the rationale being that it would give the national governing body a windfall it can invest in grassroots football.

The FA has claimed that the deal would enable it to invest an extra £70million a year - and a total of more than £2billion over the next 20 years - in artificial pitches, grass pitches, coaching and other initiatives. This would help it

tackle the unacceptable state of grassroots facilities - just one in three grass pitches are of adequate quality, one in six amateur games cancelled because of poor pitches and only half the number of modern artificial pitches as Germany.