Ed Woodward sets Manchester United departure date with Richard Arnold confirmed as new chief executive

Woodward to step down on 1 February after announcing resignation last year

Mark Critchley
Northern Football Correspondent
Thursday 06 January 2022 13:18
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<p>Manchester United executives Richard Arnold (left) and Ed Woodward</p>

Manchester United executives Richard Arnold (left) and Ed Woodward

Ed Woodward will step down from his role as Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman at the beginning of next month, with Richard Arnold now confirmed as his successor.

Woodward announced following the collapse of the Super League in April last year that he would leave his position as United’s most senior executive at the end of 2021. His departure is now set for 1 February.

Arnold, who will assume the title of chief executive, makes the step up from his position as United’s managing director, where he has been largely responsible for the commercial side of the club’s business.

While Woodward enjoyed a hands-on role in United’s transfer dealings for much of time in the role, Arnold is expected to delegate that work to the football department, headed up by football director John Murtough.

“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,” Arnold said in a club statement.

Woodward will leave with immediate effect from 1 February, with all responsibilities transferring over to Arnold. He will not take up a part-time consultancy role but will attend board meetings until the end of June to ease the transition.

Though Woodward’s time as the club’s figurehead has not been without trophies, it will be remembered mostly for the failure to win a Premier League title that led to the dismissal of four separate managers.

The 50-year-old joined United in 2005, having helped to broker the Glazer family’s takeover of United while working at investment bank JP Morgan. Woodward was promoted to his current position in 2012 and became the de facto replacement of chief executive David Gill the following year.

That coincided with Sir Alex Ferguson’s decision to step down as manager after 26 years of unparalleled success, though his successor David Moyes was dismissed by Woodward after nine months which saw the then-reigning Premier League champions finish seventh and fail to qualify for the Champions League.

Louis van Gaal became the second manager to be dismissed by Woodward two years later after he also failed to secure a top-four finish, though the Dutchman signed off by winning the FA Cup.

Jose Mourinho followed that with League Cup and Europa League triumphs in his first season in charge, but tensions over recruitment caused an acrimonious atmosphere within the club over the years that followed and ultimately resulted in his departure in late 2018.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the unlikely choice to succeed Mourinho after a whirlwind caretaker spell and secured the first back-to-back top-four finishes of Woodward’s tenure, though he too was dismissed in November following a poor start to the season.

Joel Glazer, United’s 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.”

Arnold’s first task will be to appoint the permanent successor to Solskjaer. Ralf Rangnick is currently in interim charge but has failed to spark an immediate upturn in their fortunes, with the Old Trafford club four points adrift of fourth-place Arsenal and 22 points behind leaders Manchester City.

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