Wednesday night marks a monumental day in Salford City history as they face Manchester United for the first time in a competitive environment – at what will be a moment Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville could never have imagined when they became co-owners of the first.
Salford will host the Red Devils at Peninsula Stadium in the EFL Trophy in a match where the two teams are paired together by Giggs, Neville and fellow class 92 alumni Phil Neville, David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt. All six of United’s greats have a 10 percent stake in the club, while Peter Lim owns the other 40 percent.
While the game won’t see the visitors’ first team in action, they will be playing an Under-21 squad due to the league rules, it’s still a huge game for League Two Salford and their owners.
Salford City will play against Manchester United for the first time in a competitive match
Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville were on hand to talk about the game and the club’s future
Brothers Neville, Giggs, Scholes and Butt all bought into the club in 2014 – Beckham invested in 2019 – when they were in the Northern Premier League. Six years later, they are now a League Two team preparing for the visit of the Red Devils.
“We certainly couldn’t imagine that when we took over six years ago,” Giggs told Sportsmail.
‘It’s exciting and great for the club. It’s a really good competition as it will be a test for United’s young players and of course for us to compete against such talented young players. Everyone at the club is enthusiastic about it. ‘
‘There’s a buzz around the game and, even though it’s their under 21s, the idea of us playing Manchester United is something you could never imagine – especially when I saw our first game six years ago,’ he added. Gary Neville during a game. TalkTalk media opportunity.
“It’s a great one but a moment that we’ll enjoy and one from our point of view we’ll enjoy watching us compete against them.”
Salford will face United’s Under-21s rather than the first team
Giggs wants to see the Salford players in action against the youngsters of Manchester United
A week later, Salford has the tempting prospect of facing the Premier League again when they travel to Goodison Park to take on Everton in the second round of the Carabao Cup – a reward for beating championship outfit Rotherham 4- 2 after weekend penalties (it ended 1 -1 after 90 minutes).
That result showed the Ammies’ potential to move forward, but Neville has no illusions that the competition is their priority this season. Their rise in the football pyramid has been impressive as the club has enjoyed four promotions in the past six years. However, they finished 10th last season – a position that Neville describes as a reality check in their quest to one day team up with Manchester United as a fellow Premier League side.
“That would be great and that is our ultimate ambition with Salford to get as high as possible, but we are aware that we got a reality check in League Two last season,” he said.
“It gave us a kind of wake-up call that you have to make sure you are always at the highest level and that we were not last season, so we are still a long way from that, but that would certainly be very nice.”
While the Premier League may seem a little distant at the moment, the championship has been an established goal for Salford – with the class of 92 aiming for the second tier within 15 years of ownership in 2014. That dream could come true within eight years. turn into. year if Graham Alexander’s squad secures consecutive promotions starting this season. But again, Marcel knows it will be difficult.
Six members of United’s legendary 92 class are co-owners of the League Two club
Neville says it’s a game he didn’t imagine happening when he invested in 2014
‘Our timetable is very different from reality. We say promotion every year, so we’ll take two seasons, but we know it’s not realistic.
‘Every year we have to try to get promoted, but the same goes for every other team. We want to be there as soon as possible. We have always said to be aggressive in the competitions and to make sure that we prioritize getting promotion as our main focus for us.
‘The cup matches are fun, but we know [our playing days at] United, that the competition will always be your bread and butter. That’s where you get measured and that goes for these Salford players – they won’t be measured by beating Manchester United or Everton.
“They are measured against the matches against Exeter on Saturday or Oldham and Grimsby the week after.”
It has been a test calendar year for football clubs across the football pyramid due to the coronavirus pandemic. Ahead of this season, Salford has managed to bring in six new signings as Alexander looks to be promoted to League One. And despite the logistical issues from the lockdown earlier this year, Neville believes the forced break helped refine their roster.
“Because of what happened last season, where I think we don’t have the recruitment right, we focused really hard and put in a lot of work,” he says of their transfer policy.
Salford City are now in League Two after starting in the Northern Premier League in 2014
David Beckham, also co-owner of Inter Miami, recently invested in Salford City in 2019
‘We knew who our targets were and we were trying to get to them quite aggressively. There were a few deals that took a lot longer than we wanted. There is no doubt that clubs are spending less money and so are us compared to last season.
But the top players in each division are still going for the most money and that money they can get – that’s the reality. What we’re discovering now is that we get our business on quite early, and we always have, and we’re happy with what we’re at.
‘We can add one more to our squad if we get injured, but we have 17 players that we are happy with and who are part of a close-knit team. Last year we had 26 and there were too many. I don’t think the coronavirus hasn’t bothered us, it has given us more time.
‘Like everyone else, we were at home, so we could only talk to scouts, analysts and football managers because they could only watch football. As a result, they had more time to scout players, watch clips, watch different leagues and different players than we normally would if we were still playing. Of course, if you play football as a coach or scout you are busy doing things with your existing team, so it probably gave us more time to recruit well and hopefully that pays off. ‘
Salford has been promoted four times in six years and the club’s owners are aiming high
The recruitment has also been done within budget following the EFL decision to impose a £ 1.5m salary cap on League Two clubs starting this season to force clubs to spend within their means and guard against financial ruin that happened to people like Bury. In League One there is a salary limit of £ 2.5 million.
This decision, which was voted on by the clubs, is something that Salford was initially not in favor of, but as Neville reveals they did it as a sign of unity.
‘Fundamentally as individuals and as a club, we were against it. But when we were in the working group and the League rallies, it was just so obvious that the clubs were desperate for it and wanted it.
‘We are a member of a league with 24 clubs and 48 clubs in both divisions. We ultimately voted for it, as did a number of other clubs, because we realize that a vote would be a waste of time if you voted against it. It was 22-2 in our league.
‘We went with the rest of the clubs because I think unity was important during the corona virus. I was tired of football arguing with each other and not supporting it. We are against it basically because I believe FFP is wrong and think the owner should invest in the club if they want to. I understand the nervousness about how the situations of Bury, Wigan and such clubs are causing major problems.
They strive for promotion every year, but know it’s a tough job as they move up the leagues
‘We ultimately voted for it for solidarity reasons, but I am generally against the wage limit. We also voted to close the season, which we didn’t want as a club, but we also voted with the rest of the clubs for financial reasons. ‘
Salford’s ambition as a club is evident not only on the men’s side, but also on the women’s side. Their lionesses, only formed in 2018, will compete in the Women’s FA Cup for the first time this season in their history. And this campaign they will also be sponsored by TalkTalk – who have expanded their partnership with Salford City to their women’s team.
“It is important to us that the ‘For Everyone’ platform is extended to women for inclusivity,” Ben Cooper, Head of Brand, told Sportsmail.
“The company was set up as a way to bring broadband to everyone and have that platform. You cannot, in good conscience, have “TalkTalk For Everyone” written on the front of the men’s shirts and not on the Lionesses. Women’s football is on the rise, so it makes sense. ‘
TalkTalk has expanded its partnership with Salford City FC with the Salford City Lionesses. The sponsorship is the latest example of TalkTalk’s commitment to the local community and reflects the connectivity provider’s efforts to promote inclusivity and diversity.