Ed Woodward became aware of the European Super League’s launch only a day before its announcement, with Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman not part of that aspect of the decision-making process, the Guardian understands.
Woodward, a European Club Association board member until the start of this week, was not kept abreast of developments in the final days before the controversial project was confirmed on Sunday with United’s co-chairman Joel Glazer as one of its most senior figures.
Until Saturday Woodward believed the ECA would agree a deal with Uefa over a revamped Champions League that would have prevented the Super League’s existence. When he realised the ESL was to be green-lit, it is understood he felt uneasy regarding the lack of competition in a new tournament in which 15 clubs including United would be guaranteed entry, and spent the next two days considering whether he could support it.
On Monday Woodward concluded the anti-competitive element meant he was unable to back it and resigned. The ESL collapsed a day later but by then the 49-year-old had agreed his departure from a job he had intended to stay in until at least 2026.
Woodward is due to continue in his role until the end of this year and is open to working in football again. He believes his resignation on this point of principle means his views on how the game should modernise will carry extra weight.
Last week Woodward had a breakfast meeting at No 10 Downing Street with Boris Johnson’s chief of staff, Dan Rosenfield, a United supporter. It is understood they discussed the return of fans but not the Super League.