Manchester United have confirmed chief executive Richard Arnold is stepping down from his position at the end of December.
His departure comes as Manchester United prepare to confirm Sir Jim Ratcliffe's Ineos Sport buying a 25 per cent stake in the club for £1.3 billion.
Patrick Stewart, Manchester United's general counsel, has been named as the club's interim chief executive following Arnold's departure.
Stewart has vowed to ensured the club's foundations 'remain stable' as the club 'embrace changes that can make us stronger over the long term, on and off the pitch'.
Arnold has been the club's CEO since February 2022, succeeding Ed Woodward in the role. Man United said Arnold will provide provide transitional support until the end of December, with a search process being carried out for a permanent CEO.
Arnold said as cited by Sports Central: 'It has been an incredible privilege to serve this great football club for the past 16 years.
The club will conduct a thorough search for a new CEO, although Blanc’s position as a senior Ineos employee counts in his favour, as does his experience as chief executive and chairman of Juventus and another executive role at Paris Saint-Germain.
Ineos’s director of sport Sir Dave Brailsford is also expected to be involved, but may act as an adviser rather than taking a formal role.
Arnold replaced Ed Woodward as chief executive in February 2022. The 52-year-old has been instrumental to United’s strong commercial growth over the last decade, securing a £900million kit deal with adidas and £60m shirt sponsorship with Qualcomm earlier this year, but was widely criticised over the club’s handling of the Mason Greenwood saga which led to the England striker joining Getafe on loan following a United U-turn.
Joel Glazer, United’s executive co-chairman, said: ‘We are fortunate to be able to call on the deep knowledge and experience of Patrick Stewart to provide stability and continuity as we embark on a search for a new permanent CEO.’
Meanwhile, United striker Marcus Rashford has reported to St George’s Park for England’s clash with Malta tomorrow, having been permitted to join up late so he could attend to a personal matter.
Manchester City midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who was also given permission to join up late, is still to report, leaving his inclusion for the Euro 2024 qualifier in doubt.
Stewart, who shares the name of the famous Star Trek actor, will take on the interim chief executive position in addition to his existing roles as the club's general counsel.
The solicitor, who has worked for the club since 2006, is responsible for managing the legal and regulatory affairs as well as its relationships with football stakeholders.
Stewart was appointed to Man United's board at the end of 2022, shortly after the Glazer's announced the takeover process.
He also works as an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, after being nominated by the European Club Association in 2018.
Prior to joining Man United, Stewart worked for two leading UK commercial law firms and TEAM Marketing AG, the Swiss sports marketing agency responsible for selling commercial rights to the UEFA Champions League.
Stewart has been with Man United since 2006, where he has been responsible for managing the Company's legal and regulatory affairs as well as its relationships with football stakeholders.
He has been an arbitrator at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland since 2018 having been nominated by the influential European Club Association.
Before joining United, Stewart worked at TEAM Marketing, who sold the commercial rights to the Champions League.
Stewart is viewed as a highly experienced and respected figure inside the club and across football, with the official leading club liaison with governing and representative bodies.
He was appointed to Man United's company board at the end of 2022.
The Glazer family had announced last November that they were exploring new investment into the club and a potential sale as part of 'strategic alternatives for the club'.
Stewart has reportedly taken a leading role in recent weeks regarding the sale of the stake to Ratcliffe, who saw off the challenge of takeover rival Sheikh Jassim following a lengthy process.
The departure of Arnold comes after the chief executive came under mounting pressure over his handling of Mason Greenwood's future at the club.
Greenwood was sent on loan to Spanish club Getafe with the club deciding not to reintegrate him into the squad following a six-month investigation after charges of attempted rape and assault were dropped by police.
Arnold had the final decision over Greenwood's future, with reports in August claiming he told senior staff a fortnight ago that the striker would be coming back following a six-month internal investigation.
The report claimed Arnold intended to record and share a video explaining Greenwood's reintegration to staff and the general public.
Arnold was grilled in an all-staff meeting in September, where he defended Man United's process of suspending Greenwood and their eventual decision.
The Man United chief executive reportedly insisted the decision was only made after the club's full investigation was completed..