Gary Neville hits out at Leeds United CEO Angus Kinnear for views on Fan-led Review of Football Governance

Former England defender Gary Neville has criticised Leeds United CEO Angus Kinnear over his views on football's Fan-Led Review.

By Graham Smyth
Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 6:43 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 6:44 pm

Writing in his programme notes for tonight's Elland Road game against Crystal Palace, Kinnear said there was 'much to applaud' in the review of the game's governance and welcomed suggestions surrounding increased supporter consultation and improved diversity.

But he took issue with the call for independent regulation and an increased transfer levy to push further funds to the rest of football's pyramid, calling them as 'flawed as they are radical.'

"Forgetting that independent regulation has not proven to be a panacea for any industry (take Ofwat presiding over three billion litres of leaked water every year and thousands of hours of illegal raw sewage disposal in our nation’s waterways as a case in point), it is hard to see the value an independent regulator would have added to the perceived issues," wrote Kinnear.

"We should remember that the European Super League was so repugnant in its conception and so seditious in its execution that the game and its supporters regulated it out of existence without the need for a third party.

"When it comes to the takeover of Newcastle it is inconceivable that a retired civil servant in the pocket of Westminster would have made the call that, while it is morally acceptable to trade billions of pounds worth of arms to an oppressive regime, it is morally unacceptable for them to own 11 teenage millionaires who kick around an inflated pig’s bladder."

Kinnear's view on a recommendation to increase the money being redistributed to clubs below the Premier League is that it will come at a cost to competition.

"On the recommendations around financial redistribution, it seems to have been conveniently forgotten that the Premier League distributed £1.5b to the wider football pyramid in the last three years, with a further commitment for another £1.6b in the next three," he wrote.

HITTING OUT - Gary Neville has criticised Leeds United CEO Angus Kinnear over his programme notes on the Fan-Led Review of Football Governance. Pic: Getty

"I don’t believe there is any industry where its biggest entities donate at anywhere near that level to both their aspiring competitors and their community. There is already a four per cent levy on transfer fees which is distributed between a player pension fund and Academy investment. Football is a private sector business and has flourished that way. Enforcing upon football a philosophy akin to Maoist collective agriculturalism (which students of “The Great Leap Forward” will know culminated in the greatest famine in history) will not make the English game fairer, it will kill the competition which is its very lifeblood.

"Teams further down the pyramid do not need their means artificially inflated, they need to live within them. As a recently promoted team we were asked by the review what we would have done with increased funds if Premier League teams had been forced to financially contribute to our promotion campaign and the answer (although more eloquently expressed) was, fundamentally, that we would have still blown it on Pawel Cibicki."

Sky Sports pundit Neville responded to Kinnear's programme notes on Twitter, saying: "Anyone remember when Leeds United were in the Championship sweating like crazy over their own financial state if they didn’t go up. How has it come to this within 12 months? A sorry state of affairs . Surely even Leeds fans don’t like these programme notes on the Fan Led Review."

Kinnear is not the first Premier League CEO to come out against those particular suggestions in the review. Aston Villa's Christian Purslow rejected calls for top flight clubs to hand more money to the football pyramid and warned that over-regulation of the game could 'kill the golden goose.'