The situation around Mason Greenwood’s potential return to the Manchester United team has become toxic, to say the least.
The issue has divided fans, between those who believe he was not found guilty of anything and should not be condemned, or should be given a second chance, and those who believe the evidence of his actions was so blatant that any acceptance of his presence at the club would be to condone behaviour which is abhorrent. This, those people believe, sends out terrible messages to impressionable young people, in particular, who support the club and puts the club’s very moral and ethical values in jeopardy.
Today, The Athletic broke a story that United’s CEO Richard Arnold had instructed executives at the club that the decision had been made to reinstate Greenwood.
However, the club issued a statement claiming that they had not made any such decision at the exact same time the article was published.
This has prompted Adam Crafton of The Athletic to post a clarification on what happened this afternoon.
According to the reporter, he informed United of the outlet’s intention to publish the article, out of courtesy, to allow them to comment.
This is standard practice in journalism to allow balance in reporting.
Crafton says United contacted him and asked him to extend his deadline while they prepared their response, which he agreed to do.
But instead of responding, the club then issued the press release, to the whole press and public at the same time as The Athletic’s article, basically deflecting and burying the story. In their statement they insisted that no final decision had been made.
Crafton has described United’s actions as “annoying personally”.
“As such, the only reasonable conclusion is that today’s United statement was unplanned and cobbled together as the club deliberated how to respond to our story,” the reporter says.
“It was illustrative of United attempting to seize back narrative on [an] increasingly strained process,” he added.
“United are unsettled and panicking that aspects of their choreographed plan [were] made public and they are now witnessing a significant social backlash.
“I 100% stand by our reporting that Arnold told his exec team in 1st week August of plans to return Greenwood.”
Crafton then goes on to say that the club’s decision to delay the original announcement on August 4th gives them “plausible deniability” on the claim that a final decision has been made.
🧵 Little thread on #mufc and Greenwood after today’s events, which may help people understand what happened. This is a bit industry-y but hopefully people appreciate the transparency
— Adam Crafton (@AdamCrafton_) August 16, 2023
What the club does next remains to be seen. It is a horrific situation, being made worse by the day, by club owners and executives trying to control the “narrative”, as Crafton puts it.
Putting targets on the backs of the United women competing at the World Cup, by blaming the delay on the need to speak to them, was a despicable act that further fanned the flames of an already out-of-control wildfire.
If a decision really had been made, perhaps the backlash caused by the leaked information will be reason enough for Arnold and co. to have a rethink, as they did when they saw the backlash to their attempts to sign Marko Arnautovic in the January window.