Tuesday , December 5 2023
Richard Arnold was criticised for his handling of the Mason Greenwood investigation CREDIT: Getty Images/Oli Scarff

Manchester United CEO Richard Arnold leaves club ahead of Ratcliffe arrival

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Manchester United chief executive Richard Arnold is to leave the club after 16 years as Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s deal for a 25% stake in the Old Trafford side nears completion.

Arnold replaced Ed Woodward in February 2022 and will provide “transitional support” until the end of December.

His departure comes as Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group prepares to finalise its £1.25bn minority purchase of United.

No announcement on Ratcliffe’s deal is expected on Wednesday.

“It has been an incredible privilege to serve this great football club for the past 16 years,” said Arnold, 52.

“Through highs and lows, the constant has been the dedication of our employees and fans. I would like to thank all of them for their loyalty and commitment, and wish everyone associated with the club the very best for the future.”

General counsel Patrick Stewart will take over as chief executive on an interim basis while the club decides on a permanent replacement.

Stewart has represented United at recent Premier League and European Clubs’ Association meetings.

“Together with my leadership team colleagues, my job will be to ensure that the club’s foundations remain stable while we embrace changes that can make us stronger over the long term, on and off the pitch, and to support the search for a new permanent CEO,” said Stewart.

There will be a gap of six to eight weeks between the announcement of the Ratcliffe deal, which is expected to be ratified during November’s international break, and its confirmation by the Premier League, during which time the British billionaire will be unable to contribute to club operations.

Arnold first joined United in August 2007 and acted as the club’s managing director from 2013 until he replaced Woodward.

He recently oversaw United’s significant sponsorship agreements with Adidas and Qualcomm, but was criticised for his handling of the situation surrounding forward Mason Greenwood.

Arnold initially hinted to staff that the former England international was set to be reintegrated with the first-team after serious charges against him including attempted rape and assault were dropped, before deciding the player had to leave Old Trafford.

In June 2022 he met with some fans in his local pub to head off a planned protest outside his house following what he described as “a nightmare” season in which manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked and United finished sixth.

Last summer Arnold oversaw the appointment of current manager Erik ten Hag, who delivered the club’s first trophy in six years by winning the Carabao Cup in his debut season.

However, United have endured a difficult start to the 2023-24 campaign, losing nine of their first 18 games in all competitions.

Fans have continued to protest against the Glazer family’s ownership of the club in recent years, including one occasion in May 2021 which caused United’s home league match against Liverpool to be postponed.

United co-chairman Joel Glazer said: “I would like to thank Richard for his outstanding service to Manchester United over the past 16 years, and wish him all the best for his future endeavours.

“We are fortunate to be able to call on the deep knowledge and experience of Patrick Stewart to provide interim stability and continuity as we embark on a search for a new permanent CEO.”

About Charles Igbinidu

Charles Igbinidu is a Public Relations practitioner in Lagos, Nigeria

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