Manchester United’s chief negotiator Matt Judge plays a central role in the club’s transfer dealings, but how much decision-making power and authority does he have?
Little has been said and written about Judge to date and he is certainly someone who shies away from the limelight, so much so that there are hardly any photographs available of him, even on his social media accounts.
‘As his name became known in the football industry, there were no photographs of him in circulation,’ The Athletic’s Laurie Whitwell writes.
‘The sole source of public information rested on his LinkedIn page, which did not contain any images.
‘The account has recently been taken offline and there is no picture of Judge on his WhatsApp profile either.’
In a recent Instagram post, United legend Patrice Evra painted a surprisingly sympathetic picture of controlling shareholders the Glazer family and even executive vice chairman Ed Woodward, but did talk of others who did not have the club’s best interests at heart and hinted that Judge might be one of them.
Others have suggested that Judge is incompetent and lacking the understanding of football that is necessary to be able to do his job properly.
‘‘“He gets unfair criticism, he’s sharp,” says one, “He is out of his depth,” says another,’ Whitwell’s sources say.
One thing all the reporter’s sources agree on is that Judge is just a messenger and has little authority over the negotiations he is conducting.
‘“He gets the information, passes it on to the right people … he’s a conduit,”’ one source told the reporter.
‘The “right people” can be taken as Woodward and Joel Glazer.’
‘“Everything is micromanaged … It goes from the agent to Matt to Ed to the Glazers to Ed to Matt to the agent, so you have this whole convoluted process”’, an agent told The Athletic.
‘It’s like snakes and ladders. Negotiations take a lot longer than they should — until you come to the last minute and it’s a scramble.’
This all makes Judge, who went to Bristol University with managing director Richard Arnold and worked at two accounting firms with Ed Woodward, difficult to negotiate with, because he is mostly gathering information and passing it on to those who do make the decisions.
‘“Matt Judge takes so many notes,’ another agent told Whitwell.
‘In meetings, you are telling him about a player and it’s like he’s keeping minutes.
‘He won’t give you any idea of how much a player is worth to United, or an idea of their next steps.
‘Marina [Granovskaia] at Chelsea is the opposite. She replies quickly to every message and is clear and honest. ‘Yes, we are interested’. ‘No, not for us’. She shows it is a straightforward job.”’
While it is clear that, as the above source confirmed, Judge ‘is out of his depth’ and while it seems he is only there because of the so-called ‘Old Boy’s network’, his replacement with an experienced director of football is unlikely to make much difference unless the incoming director is given significantly more authority.
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