Manchester City's outgoing chief executive Garry Cook offered no apology last night and portrayed himself as a victim of a "personal" focus as he resigned over an email to the mother of defender Nedum Onuoha, which mocked her fight with cancer.
Though City chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak yesterday wrote to Dr Anthonia Onuoha, apologising for the email, Cook made no reference either to her or to the message, which an internal club review has effectively concluded that he sent. Cook complained in a resignation statement of a "significant personal focus which has at times detracted from the magnificent achievements of those working at the football club". His lack of remorse seemed a serious misjudgment – the latest of a number which have punctuated three and a half years of outstanding commercial work and leadership at the club.
Al-Mubarak may be at City's home game with Wigan Athletic today and is ready to assume a more hands-on role during the search for a successor to Cook, which began yesterday. The future of City's football administrator Brian Marwood, for whom the email was intended, is under no threat and he has not been implicated, following the internal inquiry conducted by directors of the club.
Cook, 50, had been due to fly back to Manchester from a period of planned leave on Tuesday and may still do so, to clear his desk. Marwood is also due back at the club on Tuesday. It was coincidental that the two of them were away on leave at the same time, owing to the amount of work they had done over the summer. Between them, Marwood, Cook and John Williams, the former Blackburn Rovers chairman working under Marwood, completed 35 transfers in and out, an unprecedented number for City in one window. The Abu Dhabis' tendency to appoint from outside of football means the recruitment process may throw up unexpected names, though it is thought highly unlikely that Williams, who is dealing with outgoing deals, will be a successor. It also seems unlikely that either former Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon or Rick Parry, who held the position at Liverpool, will be in contention. The name of David Potts, chief executive of Tesco Asia, has been floated. John Macbeath, a UK-based, non-exec director of 18 months' standing, with an accountancy background, becomes acting chief executive.
Cook's position had looked vulnerable since last Sunday afternoon, when the club learned of the leak of email correspondence with Dr Onuoha, who wrote to tell Cook and Marwood last October that despite being "ravaged with cancer and chemotherapy", she would continue negotiating hard for her son's contract. A reply sent from Cook's iPad, mocking her condition, was intended for Marwood but also sent to her by mistake. Cook later told her the message had been sent by someone who had hacked into his computer. City yesterday implied they had found Cook guilty of sending the email and lying to cover himself by saying that their inquiry, had uncovered "foundation to Dr Onuoha's allegations". Cook subsequently "offered his resignation".
Though Dr Onuoha had initially told Cook that she did not want her illness to be made public, she detailed the emotional toll yesterday. Dr Onuoha claimed not to have been approached by City's review. A lie from somebody in as public a position as Cook brings the club into disrepute and constitutes gross misconduct.
Though Cook will be remembered for gaffes, the infrastructure of the club he leaves bares no comparison to the one he inherited. One of his prime achievements has been to keep the club in touch with fans, despite the revolution which has accompanied Middle Eastern ownership. In the latest Premier League annual report, he writes on the fan experience – a reflection of City being named the club with the best fan facilities.
City manager Roberto Mancini has confirmed that Carlos Tevez (pictured), who may start his first game of the season today, is to be stripped of the captaincy, which will go to Vincent Kompany.
Cook's Mess: His time at City
Cook is hired as City chief by then-owner Thaksin Shinawatra, having been head of "Brand Jordan" at Nike.
Describes Dr Thaksin as "a great guy to play golf with", and says that he "can't worry too much" about human rights abuses.
City are taken over by Abu Dhabi, sign Robinho for £32m.
City try to buy Kaka from Milan, the deal falls through, and Cook accuses Milan of "bottling it".
Cook oversees the signing of Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez, and a controversial poster campaign.
Accidentally welcomes cult striker Uwe Rösler to the "Manchester United Hall of Fame".
Cook gives a forthright press conference as Mark Hughes is replaced by Roberto Mancini.
Filmed saying before City's Carling Cup semi-final with Manchester United that it is a case of "not if, but when, we beat United again".
Carlos Tevez hands in a transfer request but is convinced to stay at City by the club.
City win the FA Cup, their first trophy since 1976, and finish third, qualifying for the Champions League group stages.
Cook's resignation is accepted by the City board.Reuse content