Manchester United shares are giving up all of the gains they saw following the announcement of the Super League, as the founding clubs supporting the competition faced strong backlash from top football associations, politicians, and business leaders, while a top executive for the team announced its departure.
In a statement released a few hours ago, Manchester United – one of England’s most famous football clubs – announced that its executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, will be stepping down from his role by the end of the year after nine years at the helm.
The press release did not cite the specific reasons for Woodward’s departure but sources said the decision was made before the ESL situation, but has been brought forward due to the chaos caused by the Super League announcement.
Shares of the Manchester United declined as much as 6% during yesterday’s stock trading session in New York at $16.22 per share following a 6.7% uptick seen by the stock a day before after the Super League announcement was made.
Perhaps more troubling for shareholders than these reports about Woodward’s step-down are rumors of a potential sale of the team to a third party by the Glazer family – the current owners of the Manchester United – although those reports have not been confirmed by any of the parties involved just yet.
For now, the bottom line is that the Super League fell apart in roughly 24 hours, with most – if not all – of its so-called ‘founding teams’ withdrawing from the venture amid a backlash from fans, regulators, top football associations, and politicians.
Pressure from multiple corners led to the collapse of the Super League
The reaction of the UEFA to the Super League announcement was perhaps the most severe, as the association threatened to ban players from participating in their national team’s matches if they played in the Super League.
Meanwhile, fans of Manchester United and other clubs gathered outside their club stadiums to demand the withdrawal of their teams from the competition, while UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also condemned the European Super League by deeming it a “cartel”.
Other top politicians and leaders followed through and took similar positions, including France’s President Emmanuel Macron and the Spanish government, both of which voiced their concerns and disapproval of the plan pushed forward by Florentino Pérez, the owner of the Spanish club Real Madrid.
What’s next for the Super League?
The widespread rejection of the Super League project has resulted in its collapse, at least for now. In a late statement released yesterday, the founding members said they will “reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the projects”, but experts are mostly agreed that this was a failed attempt that could have put a definitive end to the initiative.
In the mean time, shares of Manchester United along with those of the Juventus (JUVE) in Italy are retreating to their pre-announcement levels, and it remains to be seen if there will be further consequences of their involvement in this breakaway.
“If someone decides to undertake its own path, they will have to pay the consequences”, said Gianni Infantino, UEFA’s chief, in a threatening tone during a press conference held on Tuesday.
One potential measure that UEFA could take to chastise the teams after this failed coup attempt would be to temporarily suspend them from participating in the association’s top competitions for at least one season, or they could force them to give up some of the awards they have received in past UEFA competitions.
As of yesterday, reports were circulated that UEFA was exploring all legal avenues with a view to possibly punishing the clubs that joined the ESL as founder members.