Ed Woodward has promised Manchester United supporters the club will not revive European Super League plans during angry exchanges at a fans’ forum.
Woodward, the club’s vice-chairman, was part of the breakaway plot last week when United, Liverpool, Arsenal Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham attempted to form their own midweek competition, only to see the plans collapse in two days.
United fans protested outside Old Trafford last week against their Glazer owners trying to take them into a competition where they would be guaranteed qualification every season, and fear the American family still want to be part of an elite tournament where the biggest clubs cannot be relegated.
“I can assure you that we have learned our lesson from the events of the past week and we do not seek any revival of the Super League plans,” said Woodward.
Woodward announced he will be leaving his vice-chairman role in the fallout from the ESL debacle, with his departure scheduled for the end of the year. Owner Joel Glazer issued a grovelling apology to fans when the plot collapsed and Woodward has now personally said sorry.
“I would like to add my personal apology to this forum,” he said. “I know that you will feel angry and let down by the lack of consultation and by the way the proposal failed to recognise the vital principle of open competition. Proper discussion would have helped us avoid the mistake we made.
“While there would have been a substantial increase in solidarity payments from the leading clubs to the rest of the pyramid across Europe, we fully accept that there were fundamental elements which were badly misjudged.”
Supporters told Woodward and club officials the club’s history had been trampled over with the controversial plans to join the ESL.
A representative from the Manchester United Supporters Trust (Must) read out a letter to Woodward, and demanded independent representation on the board.
The letter was addressed to the club’s senior management and owners, the Glazers, and began: “We are disgusted, embarrassed and angry at the owner’s actions in relation to the planning, formation and announcement of the European Super League.
“Once again this clearly demonstrates that the club’s owners are only interested in maximising their own profits and do not care about or respect the views of Manchester United fans.
“The complete lack of engagement with fans, our players and manager is a gross mishandling of club affairs and one which we cannot forgive. It was an attack on fans and on clubs across the whole of football and we have simply had enough.”