Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward  [Reuters/Jason Cairnduff]

Manchester United chief Ed Woodward was informed the Government would not act to prevent the establishment of the European Super League (ESL) during a meeting last week.

That’s according to the Sunday Times, which reports Downing Street Chief of Staff Dan Rosenfield told Woodward this without consulting Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

United Executive Vice-Chairman Woodward is known to have visited Downing Street only days before the announcement of the ill-fated and hugely unpopular ESL.

No.10 has since insisted the breakaway competition was not brought up at the meeting, which they claim was merely to discuss the return of fans to stadiums and Covid certification.

But the report claims Woodward felt Rosenfield – a United fan – had given him assurances to proceed and he therefore told other ESL architects he had received the green light.

It adds Woodward’s conversations took place on the night of Saturday 17 April, prompting the final decision for 12 so-called Founding Clubs – including the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ – to unveil the ESL the following day.

Manchester United’s Old Trafford Stadium (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Woodward has since denied this, while the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – and Johnson himself – later railed against the ESL proposals once they were announced.

Rosenfield is then believed to have intervened in a bid to tone down the Government’s resounding opposition to the plans, which were met with widespread fan protests at stadiums up and down the country.

The Downing Street chief sent emails to this end, the Sunday Times adds, including one to DCMS Secretary of State Oliver Dowden asking him to make his statement less vehement in its stance.

The department is understood to have denied these claims, while Johnson is said to have always opposed ESL plans and requested his stance be made clear to the project’s ringleaders.

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Meanwhile, Woodward announced he will retire at the end of the year as United confirmed their withdrawal from the ESL on Tuesday.


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