Ed Woodward will leave his role as executive vice-chairman at Manchester United at the end of January, nine months after announcing his intention to step down from the position in the wake of the failed attempt by several European clubs — including United — to launch a breakaway Super League.
The 50-year-old, who will be replaced by Richard Arnold, United’s managing director, had been in charge of the day-to-day running of the club since David Gill vacated his role as chief executive at the end of the 2012-13 season.
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During almost nine years as United’s most senior executive, Woodward has overseen a period of turbulence at Old Trafford that has seen four managers — David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer — sacked for failing to restore the team to the position of dominance it had held for almost two decades under Sir Alex Ferguson, who retired after winning the Premier League in 2012-13.
Joel Glazer, executive co-chairman, said: “I would like to thank Ed for his tireless work on behalf of Manchester United during his nine years as executive vice-chairman and 16 years with the club.
“We are now looking forward to Richard and his leadership team opening a new phase in the club’s evolution, with ambitious plans for investment in Old Trafford, the strengthening of our engagement with fans, and continued drive towards our most important objective — winning on the pitch.”
Woodward’s last significant decision was to dismiss Solskjaer after three years in charge and appoint Ralf Rangnick as interim manager until the end of this season.
Arnold said: “I am honoured to have the chance to serve this great club and its fans. I am determined to return that honour in any way I can.”
Having joined United in a financial planning role in 2005 after advising the Glazer family on their leveraged takeover of the club while working for the investment bank J.P Morgan & Co, Woodward was given control of United’s commercial operation in 2007 and went on to transform the club’s global revenue streams.
United’s success in securing a variety of lucrative sponsorship deals, both globally and in individual territories, became the blueprint which other clubs now follow and Woodward’s contribution saw him elevated to the top job at Old Trafford following Gill’s departure.
But although Woodward sanctioned a series of big-money signings including Paul Pogba, Angel di Maria and Romelu Lukaku during his time in charge — United have spent more than £1 billion on transfers since 2013 — his lack of football expertise has led to sustained criticism of his suitability for his position.
A qualified accountant — his successor Arnold has the same background — Woodward resisted the appointment of a director of football at United until handing John Murtough the role in early-2021.
And while Murtough’s appointment diluted some of Woodward’s responsibilities, the outcry over the Super League plans and backlash from supporters prompted Woodward to announce his resignation on the grounds that he disagreed with the plans.
He has since remained in post while the Glazers identified a successor, but United have now confirmed that Woodward has left his position.
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