LONDON, United Kingdom, May 01 – Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward promised the club “do not seek” any revival of the European Super League as fans vented their fury at the planned breakaway during an emergency meeting on Friday.
The Old Trafford giants were one of 12 clubs that announced this month they were joining the new continental competition, only for it to collapse under intense pressure within 48 hours.
It was announced that Woodward would be leaving his role shortly before United officially withdrew from the Super League, of which the club’s American co-chairman Joel Glazer was named vice-chairman.
Around 10,000 supporters are expected to descend on Old Trafford ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash against fellow prospective Super League members Liverpool to voice their anger at the Glazers, who have owned United since 2005.
Joel Glazer has admitted “we got it wrong” but it was left to Woodward to apologise for the botched plan on Friday.
“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,” he said. “Proper discussion would have helped us avoid the mistake we made.”
He added: “I can assure you that we have learnt our lesson from the events of the past week and we do not seek any revival of the Super League plans.”
But Woodward’s comments will do little to placate furious supporters, with a letter signed by the vast majority of fan forum members read out to him during the meeting demanding change and rejecting Glazer’s apology.
“We are disgusted, embarrassed and angry at the owners’ actions in relation to the planning, formation and announcement of the European Super League,” the letter read.
“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 supporters set out a five-point plan, including a call for the club to openly engage in a British government-initiated fan-led review of football and for the appointment of independent directors to the board.
– Plea for peaceful demo –
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, speaking after his side’s 6-2 win against Roma in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final on Thursday, said it was important that fans were listened to but pleaded for the protests to remain peaceful.
“My job is to focus on the football side and that we have the best possible team,” he explained.
“As I’ve said before, I’ve been backed, I’ve had great support from the club and the owners and I’m sure I will get the backing again to go one step further.
“But I’m so happy that all the clubs agreed that this shouldn’t be the way of moving forward.”
Solskjaer’s side, on course to finish second in the Premier League, are looking to delay Manchester City’s coronation as champions and dent Liverpool’s Champions League hopes.