Manchester United close to appointing Richard Arnold as Ed Woodward's successor

The appointment of Richard Arnold, the Old Trafford club's group managing director, as Ed Woodward’s replacement could be announced as soon as next month; Manchester United announced Woodward would step down at the end of the year in the wake of the European Super League (ESL) crisis.

Ed Woodward (left) could be set to be replaced by Richard Arnold (right) at Manchester United
Image: Ed Woodward (left) could be set to be replaced by Richard Arnold (right) at Manchester United

Manchester United are close to appointing Richard Arnold as Ed Woodward’s successor as their new chief executive.

The announcement could be made as soon as next month with the changing of the guard coming at a time of renewed optimism following Cristiano Ronaldo's return to Old Trafford.

Arnold, currently Manchester United's group managing director, is reported to have been vying with at least two other United executives for the job - one of the most powerful positions in British sport.

Manchester United announced Woodward would step down at the end of the year in the wake of the European Super League (ESL) crisis which engulfed the Premier League's top clubs in April.

The abrupt withdrawal of the six English sides from the ESL was sparked by a wave of fan protests against some of their owners - the most vociferous of which came at Old Trafford, forcing a Premier League match against Liverpool in early May to be postponed.

Many United supporters have been mistrustful of the Glazers since their £790m debt-funded takeover of the club in 2005.

The family floated the company on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012, but retained control through a separate class of shares.

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Ed Woodward has been with Manchester United since 2005
Image: Ed Woodward has been with Manchester United since 2005

Since the ESL fiasco, the Glazers have pledged to introduce an element of fan ownership at the club through a new share scheme.

"The club has been in discussions with MUST [the Manchester United Supporters Trust] regarding a fan share scheme for a number of months and has already sought external legal advice on options," Joel Glazer, United's co-chairman, said in June.

"Discussions will now intensify, with the aim of agreeing a plan before the start of the new season."

That deadline was not met, although an insider said there were now "advanced discussions" about the introduction of such a scheme.

Glazer had previously issued a contrite apology for United's decision to join the ESL, which has cost it - and the other founding clubs - millions of pounds in fines from the Premier League and UEFA.

"We continue to believe that European football needs to become more sustainable throughout the pyramid for the long-term. However, we fully accept that the Super League was not the right way to go about it," Mr Glazer said.

"In seeking to create a more stable foundation for the game, we failed to show enough respect for its deep-rooted traditions - promotion, relegation, the pyramid - and for that we are sorry."

A former executive at InterVoice, a Nasdaq-listed technology company, Arnold was previously United's commercial director with Woodward being with the club since 2005.

A Manchester United spokesman declined to comment on Saturday on what he described as "speculation".

OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER

What constitutes success at Man Utd now?

From the moment he took the reins at Old Trafford, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's remit was a clear one: restore the trophy-laden glory days of the not-so-distant past.

A trophy of any kind would have sufficed in the Norwegian's first two seasons in charge but, after arguably United's most successful transfer window of the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, have expectation levels increased to include only the biggest prizes on offer?

United's business this summer - as, to his credit, has been the case throughout Solskjaer's reign - has been shrewd.

The signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane addressed and improved key deficiencies in the first-team squad, while Cristiano Ronaldo's sensational return to Old Trafford from Juventus was the icing on the cake.

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