Patrick Stewart will take the role of Manchester United’s interim chief executive when Richard Arnold departs the club.
The Athletic reported last month that Arnold, who replaced Ed Woodward in February 2022, was expected to depart if Sir Jim Ratcliffe succeeded in his bid to buy a 25 per cent stake in the club.
United are yet to confirm Ratcliffe’s proposed £1.3billion investment — one that is set to see the British billionaire take sporting control — but Arnold is set to depart as part of an anticipated wider restructure off the field.
Stewart, the Old Trafford club’s legal counsel and a member of the board, will take up the position on an interim basis.
Stewart is United’s most senior lawyer, responsible for managing the club’s legal and regulatory affairs and serves as an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Jean-Claude Blanc, the former Juventus chief executive who left a high-ranking role at Paris Saint-Germain last December to oversee the entire INEOS Sport portfolio, is under consideration to replace Arnold on a permanent basis.
Arnold has been with United since 2007, rising to the role of chief executive following Woodward’s exit as executive vice-chairman.
Arnold was the public face of the decision to ultimately opt against Mason Greenwood returning to the first team this summer, but only after The Athletic reported he had communicated to the club’s leadership team the call had been made to bring him back earlier in August.
Following a backlash from politicians, charities and supporters the club reversed their decision before Greenwood joined Spanish side Getafe on the final day of the summer transfer window.
Arnold, who holds Class A shares in the club, had played a major part in the club’s commercial growth and attempts to strengthen lines of communication with supporters.
But the 52-year-old was among those to push back against an earlier Ratcliffe proposal, which would have rewarded only Class B shareholders — stock held exclusively by the Glazers — and a previous difference of board opinion led to friction between the camps.
Ratcliffe is expected to make further changes after his minority stake is ratified.
Sir David Brailsford, formerly the performance director at British Cycling, is set for a key role, with him and Ratcliffe also weighing up options for a sporting director appointment.
Football director John Murtough is currently ultimately responsible for the football department and oversaw the appointment of manager Erik ten Hag.
The Athletic reported last month that Ten Hag’s position was not under immediate threat, despite United making their worst start to a season for 61 years. United have since earned narrow Premier League victories over Fulham and Luton, but suffered a 4-3 defeat to Copenhagen that puts their Champions League campaign in peril.
Confirmation of Ratcliffe’s purchase of a minority stake would conclude a protracted process after the Glazer family put the club up for sale last November.
It had been a two-horse contest between Ratcliffe and Sheikh Jassim, before the Qatari group said it was withdrawing from the race at the start of October.
Richard Arnold’s Manchester United legacy tied to Ten Hag, Ronaldo’s exit and Greenwood
(Photo: Charlotte Tattersall – MUFC/Manchester United via Getty Images)