New light shed on Woodward’s true role in ESL plans, including big regret

Avram Glazer, Ed Woodward Man Utd 2016

Departing Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward never felt truly comfortable with the European Super League plans, a report claims.

United announced the senior figure’s impending departure on Tuesday amid the collapse of the attempted breakaway. Despite a bombshell announcement of their intentions, all six Premier League clubs backed out of the plan within 48 hours. Indeed, after Chelsea withdrew their interest, United and their other ‘Big Six’ rivals followed.

Amid the chaos, the Red Devils revealed that Woodward, a key figure at Old Trafford, is to leave.

The 49-year-old intended to depart at the end of the year, but according to the Daily Telegraph, his club brought forward the statement of his exit through fears that media outlets would leak the news.

The newspaper also reveals that it was not the fan outrage at the ESL plan which sped up the exit announcement.

Instead, Woodward had ‘serious misgivings’ over the competition which was announced on Sunday evening. He was also not as central to the competition’s proposals as first thought.

He felt ‘uncomfortable’ with ‘significant’ parts of its structure. Furthermore, he had a big regret in not speaking up strongly enough to his fellow executives about his concerns.


Woodward believed – and still believes – in reform for European football. Indeed, the European Super League came about in protest at unhappiness from the top clubs at UEFA’s plan for 2024 onwards.

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However, he did not fully agree with the 15-team membership and the lack of relegation which would have proved key features of the proposed competition.

Therefore, he reflected on his actions – and lack thereof – over the plan, before deciding to depart.

Woodward had Glazer conversation

Ed Woodward, Avram Glazer, Joel Glazer Man Utd 2019

The Daily Telegraph also reveals that Woodward informed United co-owner Joel Glazer of his desire to step down on Tuesday.

Glazer subsequently attempted to change the senior figure’s mind, to no avail.

Woodward could leave before the end of 2021 if United find his successor in the coming months.

In any case, he wants a role in any handover plan, which the timeframe of his departure would allow for.

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Woodward has had a long connection with United. He used to work for investment bank JP Morgan, which helped the Glazer family take the Red Devils over.

He then became a central figure in transfer operations at Old Trafford, signing off deals including club-record captures of Paul Pogba and Angel di Maria.

READ MORE: Joel Glazer sends open letter to Man Utd fans after European Super League U-turn