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Old 15th February 2010, 15:04   #1
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Houston Texas
Posts: 1,537
Default What Is The Difference Between Gary Cook and David Gill?

What Is The Difference Between Gary Cook, and David Gill?

“This Football Club is going to be, without doubt, the biggest, and the best football club in the world….. if people don’t like it, and I’ll make no excuses for saying it, and I’ll never stop saying it, because I truly believe it…. and with the resources and the capabilities that we have… not if…. When we are at Wembley having beaten Man United YET again…”

So spoke Manchester City’s CEO, Gary Cook whilst on a visit to the USA just days before the second leg of the Carling Cup Semi-Final. He was addressing a group of Manchester City fans at a venue which turned out to be so very aptly named – The Mad Hatter Saloon on 3rd Avenue in New York. City at that time were clinging to a slender 2-1 lead from the Carling Cup Semi – Final 1st leg, and just a few nights later, would have to enter what would be a cauldron of an atmosphere at Old Trafford.

For a man holding Cook’s position at Manchester City Football Club, his comments could not have been more ill timed, despite the cheers and back slapping he enjoyed and welcomed on that Monday afternoon. Certainly there was a misguided tone of arrogance as he spoke. There was also a well intended swipe at the neighbouring club across the City of Manchester. His comments were meant to be exactly what they most certainly were; provocative. They were meant to ruffle the feathers of Manchester United.

In effect, what Gary Cook actually did, was to write Sir Alex Ferguson’s team talk for him. Sir Alex did not need to say a single word to his players on the evening of the second leg match. Their motivation was there from the minute Cook’s little diatribe was broadcast by Sky Television and shown on YouTube. He could not have scored a bigger own goal, and consequently his team was blown away by 3 – 1, and the Manchester City entrouage left Old Trafford with their tails firmly between their legs.

It was an embarrassment for Manchester City, but have we come to expect anything more from “The Temple of Doom?” No matter how much money is pumped into a club, and millions of pounds of Sheikh Mansour’s money has already been spent in an effort to close the gap on their lofty neighbours, it cannot buy history, dignity, or class.

Cook has a history of making gaffes since his arrival from the Nike Corporation two years ago! First of all, shortly after his arrival at Eastlands, was his famous line regarding his relationship with the then club owner, the corrupt Thaksin Shinawatra. “Is he a great guy to play golf with? Yes” he said. There was then the debacle surrounding the attempted move to prize Kaka away from A.C. Milan. When he realized that Kaka would not even talk to City about a proposed move, he accused the world renowned Italian club of “bottling it!” His timing and handling of the sacking of City’s previous manager, Mark Hughes, was also both shabby and shameful.

Cook was headhunted by Shinawatra from Nike where he was head of marketing for the Jordan Brand. He returned to England with all sorts of marketing ideas from across the pond and expected the English fan to be gullible enough to accept them. Certainly he understands marketing and his brag upon arrival in Manchester was that he wanted to make City “a Global Empire.” and that within 10 years City would be top dog, “bigger than Manchester United” beggared belief. The following comments were his view on things shortly after arriving from the USA.

“We’ll be as big as Manchester United. If I didn’t have that goal, I wouldn’t be here. Can we win the Premier League? Yes. Will we? It might take a bit longer. Can we win the Champions League? Growing up at Nike, you don’t sit around saying, 'Can we?’ You say, 'We will’.

“I’ve got to change the culture here. I talk to my employees about it. You get 'This is England, not America, you know’. And then 'This is Manchester, not London’. And then 'This is City, not United’. So do you roll over, play dead and go home? No. Today you can grow faster than it took United. We just need a superstar.

“China and India are gagging for football content to watch and we’re going to tell them that City is their content. We need a superstar to get through that door. Richard Dunne doesn’t roll off the tongue in Beijing. Ronaldinho brings access to major sponsors and financial reward.

“Ronaldinho was up for it but he got a call from AC Milan. One day we’re going to be a club that players say, 'Manchester City just called me, I had no choice’. With the superstar, it won’t be this [transfer] window now because they’re too complex.”

What Cook failed to realise is that nothing is guaranteed in football. Since that statement Manchester City have spent an awful lot of money on players and have still yet to see any tangible return. There is certainly no guarantee that they will even finish in the top six this season. Yes, they are performing marginally better in the Premiership than they have done in recent years, but on the whole, there is a catalogue of star players who have turned them down in recent months, and the majority of those that they have signed give opposition fans the feeling that they signed for the money and nothing more …. Certainly not ambition!

Like most of his prophesies, turning United over both on and off the field is much easier to say than do. Chelsea are a prime example of trying to do that under Peter Kenyon’s leadership! Cook certainly did not understand that Manchester City does not have the standing, or the charisma in the game, that those clubs such as United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Real Madrid, Barcelona etc etc who all have such rich histories and lists of achievements, do. So City, without this rich history, and having also failed to win a major trophy for over 34 years, are going to struggle as a global brand, and it is just not going to happen for them in the immediate future.

Cook also had some radical ideas about the game. After being in the job for just a few months he proposed that the Premier League should be scrapped with a new top division of 10 – 14 elite clubs and no promotion or relegation. When asked how he felt that the fans would take to that, he replied; “they will have to find a way to get passionate about it.” Fans to him, and to most CEO’s in the Premiership are just to be exploited for their emotional attachment to their clubs. Bleed them dry, and if they can’t afford to attend again, so what? There are plenty of other mugs that will replace them. The history of both their clubs and the game matters not one single iota to them – it’s not about the game anymore, it’s about marketing and the almighty profit. When I read the following it said a lot about the man;

“The market is worldwide. There’s something not right about sitting in a bar in Bangkok, Beijing or Tokyo and seeing 'Fred Smith’s Plumbing. Call 0161...’ I talk to [Premier League chief executive] Richard Scudamore about this all the time: 'Are we maximising the central entity of the Premier League?’ He rolls his eyes and says, 'If only we would.’ The club chairmen tend to think globalisation is about selling more shirts. It’s about strategic partners in other countries – Red Bull, Thai Airways.”

To maximise wealth, Cook craves a slimmed-down elite division.

“If you could central-entity the top 10 teams to create a global empire called the Premier League, I would sacrifice my own club [Birmingham City] into another division for that. Do Saudi Arabians want to buy Stoke City? Or do they want to buy Newcastle, Villa, United, City? There are 10 clubs. I’d like not to have promotion and relegation. There’s an emotion around those battles but the dynamics by which fans can get their kicks can change.”
He knows a lot about balance sheets and marketing, but he certainly knows nothing about the game of football and the grass roots football fan. For me, he is a man whose mouth bleeds once a month.

So what about his counter part across the city at Old Trafford – David Gill? He began as a young chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse in 1981 and was to stay with them for 5 years, the last two being served in San Francisco. He joined BOC for just 4 years before working in their corporate finance section before moving to Avis Rent A Car System in 1990. After overseeing the disposal of Avis’s European Leasing Sales Division to GE Money capital In August 1992. After that Gill left to join the international consultancy firm of Proudfoot plc as Finance Director, before moving on to First Choice Holidays, again as Finance Director. His commercial life before joining United could be described as a nomadic journey through the financial world, and he was never one to let the grass grow under his feet at any of the companies for whom he worked. On average he changed jobs and locations once every three to four years. Oportunistic? One could say that.

In 1997, at the invite of Martin Edwards, he joined Manchester United as Finance Director and since then, his rise through the corridors of power, both at Old Trafford, the Football Association, and the Premier League have been nothing short of meteoric. In 2000, just three years after his joining United he was promoted to the position of Deputy Chief Executive (understudy to the then CEO Peter Kenyon). In 2001 came another promotion to the appointment of Group Managing Director, Manchester United; and then after Peter Kenyon’s surprise defection to Chelsea Football Club, Gill acceded to the throne at Old Trafford as CEO. It had taken him just short of six years.

Gill is undoubtedly fiercely ambitious, and this can be seen from a quote from an interview he gave to Andy Mitten for the book “Glory, Glory, Man United.” Edwards said; “David Gill came in as Finance Director. I was impressed with him in the interview, and he had a fantastic CV. He was personable too – I still think he is. I brought Peter Kenyon in because of his experience with Umbro, and I wanted him on the merchandising side. I brought him in as my deputy, which disappointed David.”

So in 2003 when he became United’s CEO, everything in the garden was rosy, and as Edwards said, he was very personable. Plus it could be said, that he was also transparent, and accessible. Always ready to give an interview, happy to speak to the fans, and more than happy to be associated with what was then the “Shareholders United” organisation, now the Manchester United Supporters Trust.

In September of 2003, Gill was happy to sit down and talk to Theresa Towle of Shareholders United and he all too readily explained why Manchester United plc neither wanted, nor needed a “sugar daddy.” Initially the interview centred around how he came to Old Trafford and how it was that he came to be CEO of arguably the biggest football club in the world. He stated that he hadn’t been looking for a move from First Choice Holidays, and to quote;

“but the job came up. I thought that it was a good career move and it gave me the opportunity to get into something that I really loved. If it had been any other club, I would not have moved.”

In an interview with the Malaysian newspaper The Star on July 25, 2009, he was to say that he took up employment with Manchester United due to his business interests!

“I wanted to make sure I did this for the right reasons because if it had only been about football, the interest would have worn off very quickly. I feel that there are many opportunities for us to push the club forward and get into new areas. I think that we operate in a sport that continues to grow because football can only grow, and we are in a great position to benefit from that. So it was a relatively easy decision to make and I’m glad that I let my head, and not heart, decide.”

Like his predecessor before him, Gill stated in the Towle interview that he had always been a lifelong United fan. “I know everyone says it, but yes, I am one of those Southern Reds. He was actually born in Reading in 1957, and stated that it was the team of the 1960’s that attracted him to United and that George Best was his favourite player ( I wonder where he was in the 1970’s and 1980’s!).

He was asked; What did he think the motives of a prospective bidder for the club might be? His response was;

“it’s difficult to comment on a hypothetical situation, but no one, be it a corporate person or a high worth individual is going to put in, let’s assume the current market capitalisation of 670 million pounds, and not want that figure to grow. People may have different motives but none would want to diminish or take money out of the club, and therefore decrease the chances of success.”

Asked if any bid that came in would be treated as hostile, he answered;

“The obligations of the board are to make sure that it is in the best interests of the company, so it is not just a financial analysis. The reason I made the statement at the 2004 AGM was that United has so many strengths and so many assets, both tangible and intangible, in terms of our business model and our following, that we don’t need and don’t want a sugar daddy to come in. Now everyone has to recognise that if someone came in with a knock out financial bid, then we as directors have individual responsibility to consider it. We would possibly have to put it to the shareholders, but it is up to individual directors whether the board put it to shareholders with a recommendation or without.”
Events since the takeover on May 12, 2005 have proved just how niaeve these statements were!

Before May12th, 2005, Gill was very adamant that the Glazer’s proposed acquisition of the club was not in the club’s best interests. He did have a lot to say, but once the coup de grace was achieved by the Glazers, his stance changed dramatically. This can be seen from the following quotes:

On United and Glazer’s £650 million of acquisition debt.


“Manchester United is a debt-free, profitable and sustainable business” (MU plc AGM November 2003).

“We could borrow money but it would not be good business for a football club. Borrowing large sums of money is the road to ruin” (SU members’ open meeting, August 2004)
“The Board has decided to inform all shareholders that it would regard an offer which it believes to be overly leveraged as not being in the best interests of the Company” (MU Board statement of 25 October 2004)

“The level of debt required is not in the best interests of the Club. The Club has 126 years of history and is recognised as one of the most successful football clubs in the world. I don’t think any sensible person would think we could recommend a proposal that could jeopardise something that has been built up over so many years” (October 2004)


No comment.

On ownership of United.


“United doesn’t have and doesn’t want a sugar daddy. We want to become a long-term sustainable business that is not reliant on one single person. We believe we have a model for a successful business and it is the appropriate thing for us” (AGM November 2003)

“In due course we would like to work with the Glazer family, Cubic Expression, Shareholders United and our other shareholders to work on a structure that we think will bring the club long-term stability. That must be our aim and is what the Board intends to do" (MU Official Website, 25 October 2004)

"We have to look at the solution going forward. Shareholders United are pleading for supporters to buy shares and that's how they can show their allegiance and control of the club going forward" (October 2004)

“I will be clearly open to the shareholders groups and bodies like yourselves and IMUSA, and that dialogue we spoke about at the AGM [setting up a supporters trust] will hopefully continue and we will move on to new heights. Don’t quote me on this, but my own personal view is if we can work together to make sure we are (and this is off the record).…….we keep this company independent. That is better for everyone” (‘United Shareholder’ interview transcript tapes, December 2003)

“Nick, you know that if I wasn’t in the position I’m in, I would be behind the barricades with you” (Said during a telephone conversation with Nick Towle of SU in December 2004, in which Gill offered to make a donation of £25,000 to SU out of the proceeds of exercise of share options he wanted to complete.)


“You have to separate ownership from following the club. If I wasn’t working for the club, I’d still be a fan and I’d be very much concerned as to what was going on on the pitch, not who owned it, that’s irrelevant, it’s not my area so to speak” (R5 Sportsweek interview, July 2005.)

On the Role of Supporters.


“We have very vocal fans and one of the key strengths of Manchester United are those fan groups” (October 2004).


“Shareholders United, as a representative of a body of fans who have purchased shares in MU plc, has historically had a seat on the [Fans] Forum. However, as a result of the new structure of the company, SU clearly has no legitimacy in representing such a block of people – since no external shareholders exist….SU’s seat on the Forum will from the start of the 2005/06 season be given to a representative of fans in Manchester, Salford or Trafford.” (Letter to SU, 5 July 2005)

Obviously, from May 12, 2005 onwards, Gill’s thinking changed rapidly and radically. Gone was the personable, transparent, approachable, and congenial personality of before, and in its place we now have the gruff, toe the party line person, that we see today. But what effected that change? There are views that he stayed on at United in some kind of loyalty and damage limitation exercise designed to prevent the Glazers taking the club to financial ruin. But can anybody really believe that? Nothing that has happened since 2005, points in that direction. There are views that the salary offered by the new owners was too good to turn away, and the news that his salary has improved by some 60% in just over four years, does tend to sway people to this way of thinking.

However, as stated earlier, the man is fiercely ambitious, opportunistic, and now revels in the prestige, and power of the positions that he now holds within the game of football. Not only as CEO of Manchester United, but also as deputy Chairman of England’s 2018 World Cup Bid; a board member of The Football Association; a board member of the European Clubs Association; and posts on several Premier League committees. It’s between the salary, prestiege and power, that I think that the true answer lies.

It is interesting to see how he views Manchester United. Once again, referring to his interview with the Malaysian newspaper The Star, he was to say;

“With Manchester United, it’s the entertainment business, the leisure business. We work with our partners to provide the excitement and passion of coming to watch a football match at Old Trafford or watching it on television. When I worked for Avis, we were a market leader, and now we are too.”

He went on to say that pushing the boundaries to see what works and doesn’t work was the key to the club’s expansion, and that at the same time it allows the club to reinvest in the product. (How I hate that word – product!)

In January of this year he oversaw the issue of a 500 million pounds Bond bail out of the club’s debt. The Prospectus that preceded the Bond issue turned out to be the biggest damning indictment of not only the Glazer’s ownership of Manchester United, but also of Gill’s acquiescence to their policies and practices. The transparencies that the Prospectus revealed were there for all to see. There was no hiding from the fact that the club was, in effect, being raped financially.

Fans are not blind, nor are they stupid. Since 2005 they have seen their season tickets rise in price by 50% and more. They have had the infernal Automatic Cup Scheme foisted upon them, and have seen the ancillaries surrounding the match day experience increase also; travel, parking, programmes, stadium fare. And each season, the fan is expected to dig deeper and deeper into his hard earned wage as the inevitable yearly price rises come into effect. So much so, that loyal, steadfast, supporters have been priced out of attending matches and are drifting away in significant numbers.

Many are from families whose support of Manchester United goes back for generations and generations. Families that have been there for United when the hard times have come around, both financially and on the field. Families whose loyalty to the club can never ever be questioned. Today, it seems that Manchester United are not happy with these kind of fans. They do not want the raucous, throbbing mass of support. That support that goes to matches week in and week out, no matter if United are playing at Old Trafford or Aberdeen; Milan or Tokyo. The fan who loves the club and more importantly the team whether they are successful or not. Sadly, for David Gill and the rest of the United Board, and their parasitic owners, these type of fans are now “yesterday’s people.”

In their place they are more interested in Roy Keane’s description of what is replacing them; the “prawn sandwich brigade.” Those that will spend their cash in the Megawhore, on the shoddy goods on display in the merchandising catalogue and website, and mostly on what Gill is not afraid to call; the “Manchester United Experience.” Those fans who do not have a clue of what supporting Manchester United is all about; who have no clue about United’s great 132 years of history. Who could not tell you who Harry Stafford, Ernest Magnall, Charlie Roberts, Billy Meredith, Frank Barson, Joe Spence, Louis Rocca, Walter Crikmer, etc etc were. Who could never tell you the part that the Davies and Gibson families have played in Manchester United’s survival.

David Gill has no shame in playing his part in this sad episode. It says much of this man’s ego, that he also had the effrontery to attach his name to the plaque in the Munich Tunnel at Old Trafford commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Munich Disaster. Some things in my mind are sacrosanct.

Today, he is still spouting verbal diarrhea as he continues to toe the party line regarding the financial situation at Manchester United. Like King Canute he fails to see the rolling tide as it comes in, only this time, the colour of that tide is Green and Gold!

And the answer to the headline question? Well it is; one has a mouth that bleeds once a month, and the other is like a fifty pence coin – seven sided and two faced!
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