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Gary Neville hits back at Jeff Stelling over Salford City attendance dig on Twitter

Gary Neville hits back at fellow Sky Sports colleague Jeff Stelling over an attendance dig aimed at Salford City on Twitter.

Hartlepool United, the team that Stelling loves so much, made the trip up to Greater Manchester, but were defeated 2-0 and are now heading towards non league.

Salford are chasing the playoffs, while Hartlepool are in the League Two drop zone, meaning that Tuesday’s match was more in favour of the former.

The Ammies, boosted by Project 92 Limited’s funds, have risen climbed tiers in the last few years.

Project 92 Limited counts among its shareholders David Beckham and Paul Scholes, as well as Neville.

Matt Smith’s and Louie Barry’s goals in the first half condemned Hartlepool, who were now three points away from safety with three games left, to their 20th defeat of the league season.

Stelling, despite their vulnerability, seized the opportunity to poke his Sky Sports colleague, Neville, about Salford’s low attendance numbers.

“Did someone forget to tell fans of Salford City there was a game?” he ranted on Twitter. “2,139 [fans in attendance] – 500 of those from Hartlepool United!

“Some may say they are an artificially created club. After all, Bradford get 20,000 [fans]. And yes I know we will probably get relegated, but support your team ffs!”

With Stelling’s Tweet written just before midnight, Neville responded at around 5am the following morning with: “We’re quite proud to have got to a crowd of 2,139 from an average of 120 and 40 season ticket holders 7/8 years ago in the Evo-Stik North! Hope the head isn’t too woolly when you get up.”

When @BrianTheMessiah replied: “Jeff’s on the sherry…”, the presenter replied: “Brown Ale pal”.

Salford Red wrote: “Get to bed Jeff”, with Jeff adding: “I will. Shame all your lot appeared to have gone to bed before 7.45!!”

@SFC_Copey tweeted: “Awful take from an absolute dinosaur”, again Jeff saying: “Sorry see you got under 3000. You could do with a few dinosaurs at you games too!”

@Matty_Ox10 commented: “Were you there Jeff?”,  to which Jeff said: “You back from Stoke already Matty ? Thought so.” Then fan went further: “71 league games in a row I’ve done 👍”, leaving Jeff to say: “As many as that? That’s a most two full seasons! I have been going since 1963. Anyway in fairness you sound like a good fan. (But I am too)”.

@RyanMcGinty02 said: “Atleast they invested into a team and got promoted to where they are, one team in the 92 stole their place, so could be worse.” Jeff wrote: “Er look at the money those who invest have !!”

Salford play their home matches at the Peninsula Stadium which has a capacity of just over 5,000 people. The Ammies average just under 3,000 fans per game, which is the lowest attendance in the division, behind only Harrogate Town.

Stelling noted that Bradford were the biggest clubs in the fourth division by this particular metric. Swindon, and Stockport County followed. Hartlepool averages around 4,500 spectators per match.

Salford has three games to play in order to secure their place in the League Two playoffs and have already improved from their previous season, where they were 10 points off seventh place.

Salford boss Neil Wood said: “Really happy to keep a clean sheet, it’s been a long time coming and I felt we deserved that tonight. Important to bounce back from Saturday, I thought we had so many opportunities on Saturday and we couldn’t find that way through, couldn’t find that finishing touch so it was important to bounce back tonight with a win.

“I thought the two goals we scored tonight were excellent, excellent quality and the second half for me was a professional display to see the three points through.

“I think it could go down to goal difference, first and foremost we have to make sure we win games and tonight we wanted to win, it was important to get the three points. I still think we had chances in the second half to add to the tally but most importantly was to bounce back tonight and get the three points, and the clean sheet was a bonus. Now we go into Saturday, we’ve got a big game Saturday, we need to focus and prepare properly for that.

“I thought he [Barry] took his goal brilliant, he’s got that threat in him once he gets the ball at his feet and he’s running at defenders. He’s got that low centre of gravity and he can move, and his finish was excellent so he gives us a different dynamic the way he attacks, and then Conor McAleny is the same, he’s such a threat when he’s on the pitch so between the pair of them it’s a really strong left hand side and it’s so difficult to decide which one’s going to start and which one’s going to come on to impact the game. They’re both doing great.

“I thought the work rate was excellent tonight, I thought Callum Hendry’s work rate was outstanding and we’ve got to keep that going you know, that’s what gives you a real foothold and you’ve got to take your chances when they come, we learned that on Saturday with so many chances that we didn’t take. Then from tonight I thought the two goals we scored were excellent and we’ve got to build from that, hopefully we can build, we can score some more goals and we can also stop them going in at the other end.”

Questioned what he thought was the most disappointing aspect of the defeat, Hartlepool boss John Askey said to The Mail: “A lot of things. We lacked a lot. Defensively we showed weaknesses.

“We started quite well, we got into some good positions, but every time they went forward it looked as though they were going to score.

“We probably had more opportunities, as daft as it seems, but we didn’t look the threat they looked.

“We’ve got to do better.

“Since I’ve come in we’ve not kept a clean sheet and it gives you a mountain to climb.

“Sometimes we’ve been able to get over that hurdle but the reason why we are where we are is because we concede too many goals.

“Obviously we work on it, but I think it was their first chance where the ball came into the box [and they scored].

“We know the strengths of Smith and you’ve got to try and deal with it. But you can talk and go through it in training but we weren’t able to do anything about it.

“It was a little bit flat but at the end of the day whatever system you play it comes down to the players.

“We set up first of all to try and nullify the opposition and working on closing them down and you do that.

“But sometimes it’s not enough and they’re where they are for a reason and we’re where we are for a reason.”

This is what fans said after Gary Neville hits back at Jeff Stelling over the Salford City attendance dig on Twitter…

@slough_womble: The issue is former non league clubs don’t have the history and legacy of older generations for the younger fans. Only have to look at Harrogate & Sutton crowds which are lower than Salford’s even Wimbledon in the 80s/90s had same issue

@Lebush: Never a truer word said in jest we’ve all been saying it for year’s biggest budget worse chairman he should know from Sir Alex things take time. Thanks for sacking @RichieWe11ens best thing you have done

@bantam79: It’s a congested market in Greater Manchester- too many professional clubs in a short radius. Salford are relying on attracting disaffected Manchester United fans, and there’s no chance of picking up any Bury fans after their reformation.

@scotttalbot1990: Stinker this Jeff, when you say ‘support your team’ who are you talking to? If it’s not the 100 fans they had 12 years ago, who is it?

@michelle_jevons: Salford are the worst supported team in League 2. Imagine them in League 1 😳

@bwfc_elliot: “support your team” ye they all did. That’s just how many fans they have

@neilmac142: Too much footy in the area. City & United get the lions share but the demise of Bury, Oldham and now Rochdale tells a story.

@NeilSullivan7: Sounds like sour grapes Jeff?? What is the fascination of big support etc! Or does a bigger club have the right for the 3pts?

@WhittingtonPike: Did they even have half of that 10 years ago though? Hard to gain new supporters with the other clubs on the doorstep.

@DarrenRickerby: Howay Jeff, this is the kind of stuff us pools fans faced when we were doing well. Have a go at the state of our own club and ask why, if we’re so well supported that were doing so badly? Accounts due this month will explain more I suspect.

@rmf80: While i agree them attendances are really poor for a team in league football I can’t help thinking its poor that a man who didn’t attend a game slates a club for people not attending the game.

@stevetufc78: Shouldn’t of even been in league 2 lucky in the playoff final. Had the ref in your pocket did he win your super 6!

@Andrew_J97: They were getting hundreds only 15 years ago. Most of those in Salford support Man United. If Salford had 5000 fans they would be called glory hunters so they can’t win really. It takes generations to attract new fans, not a decade.

@CochionDubaiUAE: And some people have the Audacity of calling Wrexham the “new” Salford. Pool, Wrexham, plus several others in the National League are proper clubs. Hope you guys stay up

@IBradders: You lot @skytv have dropped them in favour of Hollywood FC AKA @Wrexham_AFC I hear.

@GouldHoward: That IS their fan base Jeff. We all know the only reason they are at this level and it’s not because of fans. Just a toy for a set of rich ex players who want to try to remain relevant.

@Addybak: Every fan wants success for their Club but I wonder how the real, original, Salford fans feel about their Club – effectively being taken from them for a vanity project.

@TorquayFans1: Lost the plot and it’s absolutely delicious

@deansjambo: They won’t have much more fans than that. I’ll guess they were happy with a few hundred before the Class of 92 came along, so a bit harsh on them Jeff 🤷‍♂️

@ButlerAndy: Until you get Financial Fair Play in the lower leagues you’ll get hobby clubs like Salford buying a league place & bringing nothing to the table while fine old clubs like Chesterfield & Notts County knock about in the conference. Wait until Fylde & South Shields buy a FL place..

@harriettbusby: Jeff, Salford didn’t need a FL club, what the area of Broughton needed was Bury FC saving. It was just a Sunday league pitch I played on in about 2011, nothing more. There’s no demand for fans there with so many big clubs in the area. They only took 550 to Oldham ffs. Fold it.

@Jack7Green: You could argue that some of the fans they do get are artificial too.. as they only got a handful of fans before the investment came in

@MLKeaney: Fuck Salford, I couldn’t give less of a shit about them. But this is the pathetic, drunken nonsense go to, for any fan of a team that gets well beaten. Embarrassing

@JonnyKitwe: Almost an exact replica of what happened with Wigan. A population that supported a much bigger football teams for decades, then when their local team found success, everyone expected those same people to jump ship & give their unequivocal support to them. It’s not that simple

@MikeyDfc93: Both clubs will eventually be bust starting again shortly things personally as Darlo fan not cause am bitter you’re fans laughed when we went to Northern league be funny to see outrage and downpour

@Matt_At9_: Salford were only getting 50 at home 13 years ago, it’s a decent increase over the years but they won’t get near EFL standard attendances

@BerniceRawlings: Salford suffer from the same dilemna as Stevenage – proximity to much bigger, more accessible clubs (15 min train ride to Arsenal in our case) with their loyal fan bases. It takes a long time to attract people away from bigger clubs. Hartlepool have a longer history.

@idlebobby: 1500 home fans is pathetic, plenty of non league clubs outstrip that and you bring about 100 away fans to close away games as well don’t forget which is a better measure of true support. What’s the long term goal other than pumping millions into a shell of a club

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