Manchester United have confirmed chief executive Richard Arnold is stepping down from his position at the end of December.
His departure comes as Manchester United prepare to confirm Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos Sport buying a 25 per cent stake in the club for £1.3 billion.
Patrick Stewart, Manchester United’s general counsel, has been named as the club’s interim chief executive following Arnold’s departure.
Stewart has vowed to ensured the club’s foundations ‘remain stable’ as the club ’embrace changes that can make us stronger over the long term, on and off the pitch’.
Arnold has been the club’s CEO since February 2022, succeeding Ed Woodward in the role. Man United said Arnold will provide provide transitional support until the end of December, with a search process being carried out for a permanent CEO.
Man United chief executive Richard Arnold will leave the club at the end of December
United’s general counsel Patrick Stewart (left) will become Man United’s interim CEO
Arnold’s expected departure comes with Sir Jim Ratcliffe poised to secure a 25 per cent stake
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‘It has been an incredible privilege to serve this great football club for the past 16 years,’ Arnold said.
‘Through highs and lows, the constant has been the dedication of our employees and fans. I would like to thank all of them for their loyalty and commitment, and wish everyone associated with the club the very best for the future.
Man United executive co-chairman Joel Glazer added: ‘I would like to thank Richard for his outstanding service to Manchester United over the past 16 years, and wish him all the best for his future endeavours.
‘We are fortunate to be able to call on the deep knowledge and experience of Patrick Stewart to provide interim stability and continuity as we embark on a search for a new permanent CEO.’
Arnold has been employed by Manchester United since 2007 and has enjoyed lots of success on the commercial side.
He has been credited with transforming the club’s commercial operations, driving revenues to record levels, including delivering major deals with adidas and Qualcomm.
Man United last month announced record revenues of £648.4million for last season with their wage bill dropping by £52.8m, as commercial revenues exceeded £300m for the first time.
Arnold has also led Man United’s efforts to strengthen their football leadership and structures.
Arnold has served as Man United’s CEO since replacing Ed Woodward back in February 2022
Arnold was heavily criticised for handling of Mason Greenwood’s future at the club before a decision was eventually taken for the striker to leave the Man United on loan
Reports emerged last month that Arnold was expected to depart should Sir Jim Ratcliffe be successful in landing a 25 per cent minority stake. The businessman is expected to take control of football operations at the club.
Man United had described last month’s reports as ‘speculation’.
Arnold is one of the 12-person board who will have to ratify Ratcliffe’s minority stake in the club.
No documents have been signed yet as Ratcliffe’s closes in on the £1.3billion deal for a 25 per cent stake in the Premier League giants.
Those with knowledge of the situation say there is a chance the agreement could be announced this week, but next week is more likely.
Stewart, who shares the name of the famous Star Trek actor, will take on the interim chief executive position in addition to his existing roles as the club’s general counsel.
Who is Patrick Stewart?
Stewart is Man United’s chief legal officer and general counsel.
The solicitor, who has worked for the club since 2006, is responsible for managing the legal and regulatory affairs as well as its relationships with football stakeholders.
Stewart was appointed to Man United’s board at the end of 2022, shortly after the Glazer’s announced the takeover process.
He also works as an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, after being nominated by the European Club Association in 2018.
Prior to joining Man United, Stewart worked for two leading UK commercial law firms and TEAM Marketing AG, the Swiss sports marketing agency responsible for selling commercial rights to the UEFA Champions League.
Stewart has been with Man United since 2006, where he has been responsible for managing the Company’s legal and regulatory affairs as well as its relationships with football stakeholders.
He has been an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland since 2018 having been nominated by the influential European Club Association.
Before joining United, Stewart worked at TEAM Marketing, who sold the commercial rights to the Champions League.
Stewart is viewed as a highly experienced and respected figure inside the club and across football, with the official leading club liaison with governing and representative bodies.
He was appointed to Man United’s company board at the end of 2022.
The Glazer family had announced last November that they were exploring new investment into the club and a potential sale as part of ‘strategic alternatives for the club’.
Stewart has reportedly taken a leading role in recent weeks regarding the sale of the stake to Ratcliffe, who saw off the challenge of takeover rival Sheikh Jassim following a lengthy process.
The departure of Arnold comes after the chief executive came under mounting pressure over his handling of Mason Greenwood’s future at the club.
Greenwood was sent on loan to Spanish club Getafe with the club deciding not to reintegrate him into the squad following a six-month investigation after charges of attempted rape and assault were dropped by police.
Arnold had the final decision over Greenwood’s future, with reports in August claiming he told senior staff a fortnight ago that the striker would be coming back following a six-month internal investigation.
The report claimed Arnold intended to record and share a video explaining Greenwood’s reintegration to staff and the general public.
Arnold was grilled in an all-staff meeting in September, where he defended Man United’s process of suspending Greenwood and their eventual decision.
The Man United chief executive reportedly insisted the decision was only made after the club’s full investigation was completed.
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