Contrary to popular belief, ex-Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain chief Jean-Claude Blanc is reportedly not a top contender to become Manchester United’s next permanent CEO.
In November last year, United officially confirmed that Richard Arnold had stepped down from his role as the club’s CEO.
Patrick Stewart who was already serving as the Red Devils’ general counsel was appointed to temporarily replace Arnold on an interim basis.
Following the announcement on Christmas Eve that the Glazers had struck a deal with Sir Jim Ratcliffe over a partial 25% investment, the INEOS billionaire accompanied by his close confidant Sir Dave Brailsford held a series of meetings at Old Trafford and Carrington last week.
Ratcliffe and Brailsford also met Erik ten Hag and some of the players from both the men’s and women’s teams.
According to The Athletic, Stewart also engaged in dialogue with Ratcliffe and Brailsford. However, it’s still expected that United will bring in a new permanent CEO.
During the takeover process and even as Ratcliffe awaits the ratification of his deal by the Premier League before starting work at the club, Blanc has widely been tipped to be the leading candidate to become United’s next CEO.
However, as per The Athletic, this is not the case.
“Blanc, the former Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus executive, has been mooted as a potential candidate and was thought to be under consideration. But numerous sources at United and INEOS, speaking on the condition of anonymity to protect relationships, have poured cold water on that idea.”
“Across meetings in recent weeks, Blanc’s role has been portrayed as somebody club staff can expect to see a lot of around the place, but the expectation is he will very much be there as a representative of INEOS, its eyes and ears, rather than becoming the new chief executive.”
Dan Sheldon points out that since United appointed Martin Edwards as its first chief executive in 1982, all others who have succeeded him have come about from within the club – Peter Kenyon, David Gill, Woodward, Arnold and Stewart already held key roles at United before receiving promotions to become CEO.
It’s believed that the current process will consider both internal and external candidates.
The Athletic explains that the Red Devils will enlist the services of a headhunter firm to lead the way. Jonathan Smith, a consultant at executive recruitment firm Spencer Stuart spoke to the newspaper and gave some insight into what the process of appointing a CEO for the 20-time English champions could look like.
He remarked, “The first thing we do, and spend a lot of time on, is asking the nominations committee, the board or the owners what the job is.”
“We will typically hold one-to-one meetings with the owners, the board and all the stakeholders to try and tease out an understanding of what the job is. We will write a job spec, and that can take a couple of weeks. This defines where you might look (for candidates), so you start thinking about where you can find people with that experience and capability and you begin to map out broad sectors you might find that in.”
“The spec dictates the search strategy, and the search strategy, to make it simple, is a list of sectors and within that list is a list of companies and within those companies a list of people. The search then effectively becomes the art of elimination: if you put all of those sectors, companies and people into a hopper and you sieve them through the specification, then people get eliminated because they won’t meet enough of it.”
Stuart insisted, “Eventually, you end up with a group who meet most of it, and they are the people you start to talk to and look at. That might be a list of eight or 10 people, and then you look at them in detail and bring it down to four or five, which becomes the shortlist, and then the client/football club will have a lot of time with those four or five people and ultimately pick one.”
The Athletic however clarify that ultimately, the final decision will be made by United’s public limited company (PLC) board.
The club’s PLC board consists of the six Glazer siblings, interim CEO Stewart and chief financial officer Cliff Baty. There are also Robert Leitao, Manu Sawhney and John Hooks, who all serve as independent directors.
INEOS also boast of an additional two seats on the PLC board. These will be taken up by John Reece and Rob Levin.
Brailsford and Blanc are poised to become directors on United’s football board.