Neville to share testimonial wealth
Gary Neville has admitted a cynicism about testimonials has emerged over the past few years, with their traditional intention of providing former players support for the future now less necessary with current wages. However the former Manchester United full-back hopes to see his own send-off provide something more.
Neville confirmed today that he plans to build a 1500-capacity supporters' club close to Old Trafford with part of the money he receives from his testimonial against Juventus next Tuesday. He is also planning a project in Malta, where he has had long-time links, plus a sustainability plan in mind, ensuring supporters buying tickets for next week's game know the money is not going straight to a player who has been well-paid throughout his career.
"A cynical attitude has developed in the last 10 to 15 years about the amount of money that footballers earn," admitted Neville. "But look across all sport; tennis, golf, Formula One. It is huge. It connects everybody all over the world.
"And football is a huge business. So much money being poured into the game and it is the people out there on the pitch who provide the spectacle. Ultimately, the players are going to be well paid. That is an inevitability. But the reality is that the lads at this club came into football because they love playing football.
"They didn't start kicking a football around in the hallway at home when they were three because they thought of money. That is why football players should never forget their roots. If they continue that love of the game throughout, I don't think anyone would begrudge them money."
Neville has been in touch with old friend David Beckham about an appearance next week and is confident the former England skipper will help re-unite the 'Class of 92', with Nicky Butt and Phil Neville already confirmed, along with Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, who will also be involved despite the proximity of the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley on 28 May.
"I am in contact with David," said Neville. "It is looking positive but we still have a couple of things to sort out. Hopefully it will be an enjoyable game for the fans and, four days before Wembley, it will be like a celebration and send-off for the lads who have done so well this season."
A detailed planning application will be submitted later this year with a target to open prior to the start of the 2013/2014 season. Although Neville is due to begin work as a Sky Sports pundit, the 36-year-old clearly has no intention of stepping back from his barely concealed love of all things United.
"I am a fan. I have always been a fan," he said. "I wanted to do something for the fans and have said that publicly for the last 15 years. This is something I know will give me satisfaction and fulfil what I believe to be a thank you, so the fans can go and enjoy it."