London (AFP) – Ed Woodward is to step down as Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman at the end of this year, the Premier League club announced on Tuesday.
The 49-year-old former investment banker is believed to have been one of the prime movers behind controversial proposals for a European Super League.
JP Morgan, the bank he worked for when he advised the Glazers over their purchase of Manchester United in 2005, are financing the project.
“I am extremely proud to have served United and it has been an honour to work for the world’s greatest football club for the past 16 years,” he said in a statement.
“The club is well positioned for the future and it will be difficult to walk away at the end of the year.”
Woodward has been executive vice-chairman at Old Trafford since 2012. He took over the responsibilities of departing chief executive David Gill the following year and proved an unpopular figure with fans.
Under his tenure the club spent more than a billion pounds ($1.4 billion) but have not won the Premier League or Champions League since Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
“I will treasure the memories from my time at Old Trafford, during a period when we won the Europa League, the FA Cup and the League Cup,” said Woodward.
“We have invested more than £1 billion in the squad during my time here and I am particularly delighted with the progress the players have made under the astute leadership of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his coaching team in the last two years.”
In a statement confirming Woodward’s departure, United co-chairman Joel Glazer said: “Ed Woodward has served the club with great distinction. On behalf of everyone at United I would like to place on record our sincere thanks for his tireless work and dedication.”
Woodward made no mention of the Super League in his comments and it is reported that his exit is unrelated to the controversial plans.
Manchester City, one of the 12 clubs to initially sign up to the proposed European Super League, announced they were withdrawing late on Tuesday, with Chelsea set to follow, leaving the project on the brink of collapse.
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