Ed Woodward has broken his silence on Project Big Picture and Manchester United’s leading role in the planned radical shake-up of English football.
United and Liverpool were the main drivers of the controversial proposal, which was ultimately rejected by Premier League clubs at a meeting last week.
Despite Project Big Picture’s dismissal, Wopdward said United would continue to lead the way over a restructuring of English football and its finances.
Woodward was speaking as United’s financial figures for the year showed the club had take a huge hit because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“You may have read about the discussions taking place within English football about plans to address the near-term financial predicament created by the pandemic for clubs in the lower leagues,” said Woodward.
“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.
“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.”
United’s year-ending financial results revealed they lost £70million as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The loss was outlined in United’s 2019-20 financial statement, which took in the period when English football was forced to shut down because of the pandemic.
United’s overall revenue was down 18.8% from £627.1m to £509m, but part of this was due to the club not qualifying for last season’s Champions League. The club had estimated revenues could reach £580m.
Matchday revenue was down £21m, with Woodward calling for fans to be allowed back into stadiums sooner rather than later.
“Crowds have been permitted to return to varying degrees in over 20 European countries, albeit with significant capacity restrictions to allow for social distancing,” said Woodward.
“We urge the UK Government to follow these positive examples as soon as it is safe to do so.
“If people are allowed to sit in a plane for hours, or in the cinema, or even watch football in a cinema why not outside in a stadium environment which is professionally managed and controlled?
“If indoor concerts are allowed, why should outdoor, socially-distanced football fans be treated differently?”
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