Manchester, November 16, 2023
In a significant development for Manchester United, Chief Executive “Richard Arnold” is set to depart the club after a 16-year tenure, coinciding with Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s completion of acquiring a 25% ownership stake in the renowned football club.
Arnold, who took over the role from Ed Woodward in February 2022, played a crucial role in the club’s commercial endeavors, having been with Manchester United since 2007 in various capacities, including commercial director and group managing director. His departure comes amid heightened anticipation of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s Ineos Group acquiring a substantial share in the club, a deal estimated at £1.25 billion.
The official announcement from Manchester United stated, “Richard Arnold has decided to step down as chief executive of Manchester United after 16 years with the club.” In the interim, Patrick Stewart, who currently serves as the general counsel, will assume the role of interim CEO. Arnold will offer transitional assistance until the conclusion of December, and the organization intends to initiate a quest for a new CEO for a permanent appointment.
Expressing his gratitude, Arnold acknowledged the dedication of the employees and fans during his tenure. “It has been an incredible privilege to serve this great football club for the past 16 years,” he said, sending his best wishes to all those connected with the team for the times ahead.
Joel Glazer, United’s executive co-chairman, extended his thanks to Arnold for his outstanding service and expressed confidence in Patrick Stewart’s ability to provide interim stability. Glazer stated, “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.”
As the completion of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s minority ownership agreement approaches, the football community eagerly anticipates the finalization of the £1.25 billion transaction. This deal is set to grant Ineos Group a 25% stake in Manchester United, along with substantial control over the club’s footballing operations.
In the interim, Patrick Stewart, acting as the current CEO, has represented Manchester United in recent “Premier League and European Clubs’ Association” meetings. His primary responsibility during this transitional phase is to ensure the stability of the club and contribute to the search for a permanent CEO.
The departure of Richard Arnold takes place amid ongoing challenges for Manchester United, including a challenging start to the 2023-24 season with nine losses in their initial 18 games across all competitions. Fan dissatisfaction with the Glazer family’s ownership has also led to protests in recent years.
Arnold’s legacy at Manchester United encompasses overseeing significant sponsorship deals with Adidas and Qualcomm. Additionally, he played a pivotal role in appointing the current manager, Erik ten Hag, whose debut season secured the club’s first trophy in six years by winning the Carabao Cup.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s potential minority stake in Manchester United represents a new chapter in the club’s ownership structure, and the appointment of a new CEO will play a crucial role in navigating the challenges and opportunities ahead. The footballing world will be closely watched as the club undergoes these transformative changes.