Home » Ed Woodward: An insight into Manchester United Chief Executive Officer’s role in the European Super League

Ed Woodward: An insight into Manchester United Chief Executive Officer’s role in the European Super League

by Raj Dholakia

Six months after the downfall of the European Super League, the feeling of betrayal remains among fans and the general footballing community.

Manchester United chairman Ed Woodward was one of the key proprietors of the idea and played a significant part in forming the league.

Forty-eight hours later, it was reported that he would resign as chairman of Man Utd at the end of the season.

In a recent article in The Athletic, Laurie Whitwell and Adam Crafton explain Woodward’s role in the Super League.

“The nuclear prospect of a Super League was on the edges of discussions at United’s London offices in Green Park long before Sunday, April 18, when Europe’s elite revealed their scheme to the world,” the reporters say.

“United’s senior corporate personnel drew up a list of ways the business could keep expanding through broadcast revenues, with three options explored.

“This entailed an increase to United’s share of the Premier League’s international sales; an allocation of eight matches per season to show via the club’s own media channels; and the more outlandish proposition for a Netflix of football rather than rights being sold to television companies.

“A Super League may only have been background noise at this stage, but a clear message emerged: United were looking at disruptive methods for growth.”

“The Glazer family, led by Joel, set the agenda, with Woodward said to be instrumental on the ground.”

Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur approached the Boston Consulting Company to expand the Premier League rights.

“The results were not encouraging, showing the rise of broadcast revenues in the 2010s had reached saturation point for the 2020s,” the reporters state.

Expansion of the Champions League was then considered, with 24 teams guaranteed to take part each year, but the idea did not gain support and was wound back.

This left the Super League as the best option for growth and the existential financial crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the key reasons club owners agreed to this idea.

Woodward was instrumental in putting the deal together and at the same time told UEFA that he and United would be supporting a re-formatting of their competitions.

Following the collapse of the league, UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin called out Woodward.

“I have seen many things in my life. I was a criminal lawyer. I have never seen people like that. Ed Woodward called me on Thursday to say he was very satisfied and supported the proposals. He had already signed something else.”

Woodward has always been more inclined towards the commercial aspect of United. His lack of football knowledge led the club to make hasty business decisions and sack three managers within five years.

The article also states: “The matter of who replaces Woodward is now regarded as “waiting for the white smoke” to plume above Old Trafford. Richard Arnold, United’s managing director, is expected to be announced in due course.”

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