Manchester United chief Ed Woodward responds to European Premier League plans

Ed Woodward has denied knowledge of plans to create a European super league, which would see Manchester United and other ‘big six’ clubs resign from the English top flight.

Reports emerged on Tuesday suggesting that United and Liverpool had held talks over the creation of a European Premier League, which would be financed by a €6bn package by Wall Street bank JP Morgan.

Woodward – a former JP Morgan investment banker – was asked about a potential breakaway during his conference call with investors on Wednesday, upon the release of United’s latest financial results.

“I saw the reports on that,” United’s executive vice-chairman said. “I candidly don’t know where that story came from. There isn’t really anything for us to say.

“We are engaged on a very regular basis through my role on the ECA [European Clubs Association] and also at Uefa talking about potential changes to the Champions League from 2024 onwards,” he said. 

“You might have read two or three days ago in the press that there was a story about whether the Champions League would go to 36 teams. They’re the conversations we’re actively involved in so I can’t comment on your question.”

In his opening statement to investors, Woodward referenced the abandoned Project Big Picture proposals which were put forward by United and Liverpool as a post-pandemic plan for the restructuring of English football.

Woodward suggested that, although those plans were voted down by a majority of Premier League clubs last week, that talks on how to “improve financial sustainability at all levels of the game” are ongoing.

“We have been playing an active role in those discussions because we strongly believe in supporting the English football pyramid, both in the short term, to address the issues created by Covid-19, and in the long term to improve financial sustainability at all levels of the game,” he said.

“There will always be intense debate around any changes to the structure of football, just as there was before the formation of the Premier League 28 years ago.  

“Now, at this critical juncture for the game, we must ensure that the huge success of the Premier League is reinforced while ensuring that the wider football pyramid continues to thrive in a rapidly changing media environment.  

“Achieving this will require strategic vision and leadership. We are pleased that the Premier League has committed to work together on a plan for the future structures and financing of English football.  

“Now it must deliver on that promise, and we are committed to playing a leading role in pushing that process towards a successful outcome.”

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