Manchester United co-chairman and part-owner Joel Glazer has issued an apology to fans for the "unrest" caused by their European Super League misadventure.

United were one of 12 founding clubs for the close-shop competition announced on Sunday, but more than that they had frequently been cited as among the biggest pushers for a new tournament to rival UEFA's Champions League.

Super League involvement would have seen United – along with the other founder clubs – guaranteed participation every year, thus threatening the ideals of competitiveness and sporting merit.

Much of the significant backlash, which United players Bruno Fernandes and Luke Shaw were a part of, related to this lack of competition, with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola suggesting it could not be considered sport.

But less than 48 hours after the plans were announced, the proposed tournament began to crumble as the English clubs withdrew – United confirmed their disassociation at the same time as Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham, with City doing so earlier in the day and Chelsea following.

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward also confirmed his resignation, which the club claimed was unrelated to the defeat of the Super League plans.

Criticism was directed at United for their brief statement upon withdrawal as well, though Glazer – co-owner with his brother Avram – says he is "committed to rebuilding trust" in a lengthier open letter.

United supporters will surely argue there was never trust in the deeply unpopular Glazers in the first place, with the letter representing the family's first communication with the fanbase since 2005.

It read: "To all Manchester United supporters, over the past few days we have all witnessed the great passion which football generates, and the deep loyalty our fans have for this great club.

"You made very clear your opposition to the European Super League, and we have listened. We got it wrong, and we want to show that we can put things right.

"Although the wounds are raw and I understand that it will take time for the scars to heal, I am personally committed to rebuilding trust with our fans and learning from the message you delivered with such conviction.

"We continue to believe that European football needs to become more sustainable throughout the pyramid for the long-term. However, we fully accept that the Super League was not the right way to go about it.

"In seeking to create a more stable foundation for the game, we failed to show enough respect for its deep-rooted traditions –promotion, relegation, the pyramid – and for that we are sorry.

"This is the world's greatest football club and we apologise unreservedly for the unrest caused during these past few days. It is important for us to put that right.

"Manchester United has a rich heritage and we recognise our responsibility to live up to its great traditions and values. The pandemic has thrown up so many unique challenges and we are proud of the way Manchester United and its fans from Manchester and around the world have reacted to the enormous pressures during this period.

"We also realise that we need to better communicate with you, our fans, because you will always be at the heart of the club. In the background, you can be sure that we will be taking the necessary steps to rebuild relationships with other stakeholders across the game, with a view to working together on solutions to the long-term challenges facing the football pyramid.

"Right now, our priority is to continue to support all of our teams as they push for the strongest possible finish to the season. In closing, I would like to recognise that it is your support which makes this club so great, and we thank you for that. With best regards, Joel Glazer."

The implosion of the European Super League (ESL) over the past 48 hours was more about the breakaway group losing out to the establishment and had little to do with the fans.

Former Manchester United player and coach Nicky Butt has accused the "powerful people" involved in the European Super League launch of "the worst case of bullying".

United were among 12 clubs who announced on Sunday plans to start a controversial new continental competition to rival the Champions League.

By Tuesday, however, United and each of the other five English sides invited had withdrawn from the tournament amid huge pressure both inside and outside the clubs.

Butt was the head of first-team development in United's academy as recently as last month but did not hold back in his criticism, dismissing any subsequent apologies as "irrelevant".

"I don't think an apology is too great anyway, if I'm honest," the ex-Newcastle United captain told Sky Sports. "I think what happened should never have happened.

"What happened is the worst case of bullying, in my opinion, from powerful people, so whether they apologise or not is irrelevant to me really."

Ed Woodward, United's executive vice-chairman, announced on Tuesday he will depart at the end of 2021, although Stats Perform News understands it was an amicable move unrelated to the Super League.

The project prompted backlash from fans, players, coaches, governing bodies, governments and the media.

Above Woodward, the Glazer family at United and fellow American owners at Liverpool and Arsenal were credited with playing key roles.

"It's a lesson to people who come into the country and come into powerful football clubs and think that they can do whatever they want because they are owners and they are very, very wealthy," Butt said.

"Over the last few hours in this country, it has proved not to be the case."

Butt was speaking for the first time since leaving his role at United and said: "It was just a personal choice to leave the club because I felt like it was my time to go and explore other opportunities.

"Obviously, with what has gone on over the last few days, it looks like there was a reason I left, but that wasn't the reason.

"My reason for leaving was purely to accept new challenges that will hopefully come soon.

"I love the club. Always have, always will."

Sam Allardyce wants to see greater protection put in place to guard the Premier League from further attempts to form a European Super League.

England's top flight came under threat this week after its 'big six' announced plans to launch the controversial new continental competition.

The Super League would have replaced the Champions League for those involved, rather than the Premier League, but the clubs would be guaranteed participation, impacting the domestic structure which currently provides a path into Europe.

The remaining 14 Premier League outfits voted "unanimously and vigorously" against the proposal, however.

And by the close of play on Tuesday, all six English sides had backtracked, announcing plans to pull out of the Super League, which prompted European rivals to follow.

Former England manager Allardyce – now in charge at West Brom – does not feel the danger has passed.

"In that format, it's dead," he said. "But in other formats, it's on hold."

The Baggies boss took aim at the American owners of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal as he outlined the need to protect "the best league in the world" against future breakaway bids.

Allardyce compared the Super League, which would not have featured demotion for founding clubs, to competitions in the United States like the NFL, NBA or MLB.

"The lessons to be learned are now down to the governing bodies, who run our game," he said.

"Unless we learn those lessons very quickly, unless we put better protection into the structure of our game, we are still ready to be seeing something like this yet again and again.

"This is not a new idea, by any stretch of the imagination. It may have been a new format, but this has been talked about for many years, believe you me.

"The bigger boys have been trying to get the bigger share of the pot for many years. Luckily, because of the 14 votes required in the Premier League, that has been resisted and rightly so.

"Now, they've chosen to go behind people's backs and try to find a better solution just for them and only them and not for football in general.

"It's a great shame that when we have the best league in the world that raises the most money in the world that six of our clubs in the Premier League chose to desert that format.

"Why would you want to desert the best league in the world, the most-watched league in the world, the most entertaining league in the world? The best players, the best managers and coaches – why would you want to destroy that?

"I find that [is] because individuals have come together, and in particular this stinks of the American system trying to be put in place, for me.

"Obviously three of the six are American-based, and when you see the format in America – no relegation, no promotion – that's exactly what this alludes to and you can see where it's probably come from."

Allardyce called for "better rules and regulations" to "avoid this situation again", while he was also asked about possible sanctions for the 'big six'.

When Super League plans were still in place, the idea of expelling the sides was mooted. Potential points deductions continue to be discussed.

"If we all break the rules, we all get sanctioned," Allardyce said. "If I breach any rules, I get sanctioned for it; if clubs break any rules, they get sanctioned for it.

"Obviously, in this case, they've broken the rules so they need to be looked at. What form of punishment? I don't know.

"But certainly, if you've broken the rules, you have to pay for that."

John W Henry has apologised for the disruption caused by Liverpool's involvement in the European Super League project, admitting a mistake was made when trying to act in the perceived best interests of the club.

The 12-team breakaway competition was only revealed on Sunday, yet the universal backlash quickly led to the 'big six' from the Premier League all withdrawing from the proposal.

Manchester City were the first to reveal their decision to pull out, with Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United then releasing simultaneous statements ending their association.

Chelsea had been the first English club reported to be making a Super League U-turn and the Blues confirmed as much after the 0-0 home draw with Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday.

"I want to apologise to all the fans and supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused over the past 48 hours," Liverpool principal owner Henry said in a video posted by the club on social media.

"It goes without saying but should be said that the project put forward was never going to stand without the support of the fans. No-one ever thought differently in England. Over these 48 hours you were very clear that it would not stand. We heard you. I heard you.

"And I want to apologise to Jurgen [Reds manager Klopp], to Billy (chief executive Hogan], to the players and to everyone who works so hard at LFC to make our fans proud. They have absolutely no responsibility for this disruption. They were the most disrupted and unfairly so. This is what hurts most. They love your club and work to make you proud every single day.

"I know the entire LFC team has the expertise, leadership and passion necessary to rebuild trust and help us move forward. More than a decade ago when we signed up for the challenges associated with football, we dreamed of what you dreamed of. And we've worked hard to improve your club.

"Our work isn't done. And I hope you'll understand that even when we make mistakes, we're trying to work in your club's best interests. In this endeavour I've let you down."

On Monday, prior to his team playing Leeds United in Premier League action, Klopp had made clear his dislike of the planned Super League, a tournament which would have seen the 15 founding members certain of their involvement each season regardless of domestic results.

James Milner spoke out against the plan when interviewed after the Reds' 1-1 draw at Elland Road, while Liverpool's players collectively issued a statement the following day, making clear their stance on the issue.

"We don't like it and we don't want it to happen," the message read, while confirming their continued commitment to the club and its supporters.

Henry accepted full responsibility for the "negativity brought forward" since Sunday's announcement.

"Again, I'm sorry, and I alone am responsible for the unnecessary negativity brought forward over the past couple of days. It's something I won't forget. And shows the power the fans have today and will rightly continue to have," he continued.

"If there's one thing this horrible pandemic has clearly shown, it’s how crucial fans are to our sport and to every sport. It's shown in every empty stadium.

"It's been an incredibly tough year for all of us; virtually no-one unaffected. It's important that the Liverpool football family remains intact, vital and committed to what we've seen from you globally, with local gestures of kindness and support. I can promise you I will do whatever I can to further that."

Jose Mourinho has been out of work less than 48 hours but speculation of his next job is already mounting.

The Portuguese has already declared he is "ready to go again", despite a sizeable pay-out from Tottenham.

Tottenham sacked Mourinho on Monday with Spurs sitting seventh in the Premier League.

 

TOP STORY – MOURINHO ENTERS CELTIC COACHING RACE

Mourinho is in the mix to be the new coach of Scottish powerhouse Celtic according to The Sun.

Former Bournemouth coach Eddie Howe is the favourite to be appointed Neil Lennon's replacement at Celtic Park.

But 'The Special One' is in contention, despite his hefty wage demands and line of suitors.

 

ROUND-UP

- Bayern Munich's David Alaba has agreed a five-year deal with Real Madrid with the contract to be signed in the coming weeks according to Sky Sports.

- Departing Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero has been offered a two-year contract by Barcelona according to TyC Sports.

- Football Insider reports Aston Villa may enter the race for Jesse Lingard who has enjoyed a super loan spell at West Ham United from Manchester United.

- Manchester United defender Eric Bailly is wanted by Spanish LaLiga club Real Betis claims The Sun.

- Julian Draxler is ready to leave PSG with a return to his homeland to join Bayern Munich his preference reports Foot Mercato.

Leaders of the European Super League were weighing up their options after half of their proposed member clubs pulled out Tuesday. 

The six English clubs - Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham and Chelsea - have all confirmed their withdrawal.

Their departure leaves Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Milan and Inter to continue.

"Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due the pressure out on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations as was demonstrated today by a court decision to protect the Super League from third party actions," the European Super League said in a release. 

"Given the current circumstances, we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidary payments for the entire football community."

The European Super League statement also reiterated that the "current status quo of European football needs to change". It said the current European system "does not work".

The project has received widespread condemnation from fans, players, coaches, federations and national governments since its initial announcement on Sunday.

Fenway Sports Group's (FSG) position at Liverpool may become untenable after their attempt to launch a European Super League, according to club great Jamie Carragher, while Gary Neville believes time is up for the Glazer family at Manchester United.

On Sunday, Liverpool and United, along with Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham, along with teams from Spain and Italy, announced their intention to join a breakaway competition, sparking furore across the spectrum.

UEFA responded in force, threatening bans to clubs and players alike, with FIFA offering their support.

Governing bodies and football associations also condemned the move, while supporters gathered outside grounds to protest.

In a remarkable shift, the pressure told on Tuesday, with City formally announcing their withdrawal from the competition. Liverpool and United, along with the other English teams, followed suit.

While it remains to be seen what punishment, if any, will be handed out, Sky Sports pundits Carragher and Neville believe the ownerships of their respective clubs may have run their course.

"I'm as angry at Liverpool now as I was yesterday," Carragher said shortly before Liverpool's confirmation they had left the competition.  

"Jurgen Klopp has thrown them under the bus, their own captain has thrown them under the bus, with the rest of the squad. There's nothing left for Liverpool's owners in what they're doing, what they're hanging on for.

"I actually think the situation with Liverpool's owners now – I don't see how they can continue. They can't just leave the club, obviously, it's a business. It's worth a lot of money if they sell it, but I don't see a future for the ownership of FSG at Liverpool anymore on the back of this, and I think they're just making it worse for themselves the longer they hang in."

Joel and Avram Glazer have long been unpopular with United's fanbase, meanwhile. On Tuesday, it was confirmed Ed Woodward – the club's executive vice-chairman – would be leaving at the end of 2021.

Neville added: "Ed Woodward is the trunk of the tree, we now need to go for the roots. [The Glazers] have declared their hand, while they were peacefully sat at the club, never showing their hand.

"They were taking money out of the club, leveraging the club, there's nothing we could do about that once the club became a PLC but they attacked every single football fan in this country with what they did.

"The Glazers have no place in Manchester anymore and we have to work hard to ensure that ownership rules in this country are changed, that we have a system whereby this can not happen, whether it's government intervention, an independent regulator, a fan-owned club rule.

"Whatever it is, we have to make sure that this is a catalyst for change. The people have spoken, we were on the brink of anarchy if this continued. These six sets of owners in this country and the other ones in Europe have misread this situation badly."

Pep Guardiola told UEFA to face up to its own failure after the European Super League project left football on the brink of disaster.

Manchester City were the first club to confirm their withdrawal from the ill-conceived breakaway project on Tuesday, less than 48 hours after the announcement of the tournament provoked widespread fury.

Players, coaches, rival clubs, national federations, FIFA, UEFA and national governments lined up to condemn the closed-shop format of the competition, where the Premier League's 'big six' were set to be founder members alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Milan.

Chelsea had also reportedly reached a decision to leave by the time City issued a brief, one-paragraph statement to confirm they would step away, with Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham all doing likewise in a flurry of late-night activity in England.

After City's announcement, UEFA issued a release from its president Aleksander Ceferin, praising the Premier League leaders for showing "great intelligence" and "courage" for admitting to their mistake.

In remarks made before those pleasantries, Guardiola was far less complimentary about European football's governing body.

"UEFA has to know: if this [Super League] has happened, it's because it's too late," he said.

"Something will happen. Always they fail. UEFA fails.

"Some important clubs have created this important situation. Why? Why? Tell me why?"

City clashed with UEFA over recent years, culminating in a two-year ban from the organisation's competitions for contravening Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules that was subsequently quashed on appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last July.

But Guardiola's ire appeared to be focused upon the drive to squeeze more matches out of top clubs – an element the newly expanded Champions League format has in common with the now doomed Super League.

The Premier League, another organisation to have emerged with significant credit over a tumultuous couple of days, were also in his crosshairs.

"We spoke at the beginning of the season, about how many games there were. We spoke about the Premier League and the clubs – not the players – and instead of reducing the competition, we played more," he said.

"You think it's normal that all the clubs fight for 10 months, when they have spent a huge amount of money for these players and staff, to put the players out for three games [a week]? And then injuries and their seasons are over.

"What is the problem for UEFA? Zero. 'Why don't you finish the season, play for the national teams, play the European Championship? Why not?'.

"They don’t care. They play for their own business."

Greed has been an accusation understandably thrown at City and the other clubs to have dabbled with the Super League project and this was not something Guardiola disputed.

Indeed, ahead of his team's packed schedule continuing at Aston Villa on Wednesday, he stated the aims of the boardroom being realised have already been to the detriment of his players.

"Of course it's getting worse, but who cares? It's business, it's money. Just for this six [Premier League] teams? No, no. For everyone," he added.

"FIFA as well. The World Cup: we started with 16 and it went up and up and we're going to play with 50 countries. Ah, but it's okay. UEFA? More games.

"And the clubs. Do they listen to what the managers or the footballers said? When the season finished, we have two-three weeks off and then start again, start again. You demand.

"What about the problems about injuries? Absolutely nothing. Pick another player. The show must go on.

"Then maybe they think of something that maybe they don't like, then they react."

Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham have all confirmed they are withdrawing from the proposed European Super League.

Manchester City have confirmed their withdrawal from the proposed European Super League, leaving the controversial tournament in tatters within 48 hours of being announced.

Condemnation of the project, which drew the ire of fans, players, coaches, federations and national governments, was near universal following Sunday's rollout, which detailed how the Premier League's 'big six' would be founder members of the Super League alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Milan and Inter.

The closed-shop element of the league was noted as being contrary to European football's traditions of fair competition – an observation made by City manager Pep Guardiola on Tuesday, among many others.

Speculation mounted as a dramatic day progressed, with Chelsea also thought to be ready to pull the plug.

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward resigned from his post, although the club claim this decision is not directly related to the apparently doomed Super League project.

Stats Perform News understands Woodward has brought forward the announcement of a planned exit at the end of this year due to the likelihood of leaks.

A short statement issued from the other side of town read: "Manchester City Football Club can confirm that it has formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League."

Moments after City confirmed their withdrawal, a statement from UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the Champions League semi-finalists "back into the European football family".

"They have shown great intelligence in listening to the many voices – most notably their fans – that have spelled out the vital benefits that the current system has for the whole of European football; from the world-beating Champions League final right down to a young player's first coaching session at a grassroots club," Ceferin said.

"As I said at the UEFA Congress, it takes courage to admit a mistake but I have never doubted that they had the ability and common sense to make that decision.

"City are a real asset for the game and I am delighted to be working with them for a better future for the European game."

Speaking earlier on Tuesday, ostensibly to preview his team's Premier League trip to Aston Villa, Guardiola become the first person associated with City to speak publicly about the matter of the European Super League and left little doubt where he stood on a concept he described as an affront to sporting competition.

"Sport is not a sport when the relation between the effort and reward doesn't exist," he said.

"It's not sport when success is guaranteed, when it doesn't matter if you lose. I want the best competitions as strong as possible. In this statement, it's what I feel. This is not sport."

As cracks began to appear in the Super League project, City's star midfielder Kevin De Bruyne echoed his manager's sentiments in a Twitter statement.

"I have worked and competed against everybody trying to win the ultimate. But the most important word in this is COMPETING," he wrote.

"With all events that have been happening the last few days maybe this is the good moment for everybody to come together and try the work for a solution.

"We know this is a big business and I know I am part of this business. But still I am a little boy who just loves to play football. It's not about a certain entity in this case, it's about football over the whole world.

"Let's keep inspiring the next generation of footballers and keep the fans dreaming."

After City confirmed their exit, De Bruyne's team-mate Raheem Sterling simply tweeted: "Ok bye".

The farewells look set to keep piling up for this ill-conceived attempt to reshape European football.

A statement issued by the FA praised the role of fan pressure in helping to bring about the U-turn.

"We welcome the news that some of the clubs have decided to abandon plans for the European Super League, which threatened the whole football pyramid," it read.

"English football has a proud history based on opportunity for all clubs and the game has been unanimous in its disapproval of a closed league. It was a proposition that, by design, could have divided our game; but instead, it has unified us all.

"We would like to thank the fans in particular for their influence and unequivocal voice during this time, holding true the guiding principles of football. It is a powerful reminder that the game is, and always will be, for the fans."

Ed Woodward is proud to have worked for Manchester United, as his departure from the club at the end of 2021 was confirmed.

It has been a remarkable 48 hours across football, with United – and their owners the Glazer family – key players in a 12-team European Super League which was announced, to much derision, on Sunday. 

Yet two days later, following widespread condemnation from national governments, football associations, UEFA, FIFA and fellow clubs, the breakaway league appears to be crumbling, with United's neighbours Manchester City the first team to officially withdraw.

Chelsea, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are also rumoured to be set to follow suit, while Liverpool's players have gone on a social media campaign – spearheaded by captain Jordan Henderson – to show their displeasure with the proposals.

News broke on Tuesday evening, UK time, that Woodward, a hugely divisive figure during his time as United's executive vice-chairman, was to resign from his post, with hisdeparture was subsequently confirmed on United's official website.

"I am extremely proud to have served United and it has been an honour to work for the world's greatest football club for the past 16 years," Woodward said.

"The club is well positioned for the future and it will be difficult to walk away at the end of the year.

"I will treasure the memories from my time at Old Trafford, during a period when we won the Europa League, the FA Cup and the EFL Cup. I am proud of the regeneration of the club's culture and our return to the Manchester United way of playing.

"We have invested more than £1bn in the squad during my time here and I am particularly delighted with the progress the players have made under the astute leadership of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his coaching team in the last two years.

"I am sure that, with the changes we have made on-field and to the coaching and football staff in recent years, this great club will soon be lifting silverware again. It deserves to. 

"I desperately wanted the club to win the Premier League during my tenure and I am certain the foundations are in place for us to win it back for our passionate fans."

Woodward went on to credit United's work on the academy, while also praising the club's community work during the COVID-19 pandemic – a crisis cited as a major reason for the development of the proposed European Super League in the competition's initial announcement.

"The financial impact on football clubs has been severe, but United have been one of the most robust and resilient in the face of extraordinary financial pressures," Woodward added.

"I would like to thank United’s passionate fans for their support during the good and bad times. I know this has been a challenging period in our history, but your support for the team has never, ever been in doubt.

"Finally, it has been a pleasure to work with so many magnificent, talented and hard-working people."

Under Woodward's leadership, United have hired and fired David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho, while also breaking their transfer record for Paul Pogba in 2016. Their highest Premier League finish since Alex Ferguson left in 2013 has been second place under Mourinho in 2017-18.

United co-chairman Joel Glazer said: "Ed Woodward has served the club with great distinction. On behalf of everyone at United I would like to place on record our sincere thanks for his tireless work and dedication.

"His contribution to the club has been massive, and he will always be welcome at Old Trafford as a part of the Manchester United family."

Chelsea could only draw 0-0 at home to relegation-threatened Brighton and Hove Albion, as Graham Potter's strugglers made their point against the backdrop of the controversial European Super League crumbling just 48 hours after it was announced.

The build-up to Tuesday's game was completely overshadowed by off-field events, with protesting Chelsea fans blocking the Blues' team bus from getting to Stamford Bridge – resulting in a 15-minute kick-off delay – before reports began to emerge of owner Roman Abramovich instigating a Super League U-turn.

With the players perhaps affected by a turbulent couple of days, the on-pitch action throughout the match certainly did not match up to the boardroom drama that has consumed the world of football since Sunday.

Goal-mouth entertainment was at a premium for much of the game as Super League's meltdown ramped up in the background, and by the end Chelsea were fortunate to even hang on to a point as Brighton finished well before having Ben White sent off in stoppage time.

Chelsea's first-half performance showed little evidence of the world-leading quality their Super League association suggested, with clear-cut chances something of a rarity.

Their only genuine opportunity came in the 20th minute as Robert Sanchez made a point-blank save from Hakim Ziyech after a Adam Webster error in a dangerous area.

The match remained at largely monotonous pace for much of the next hour until Brighton seemed to spark the game into life near the end.

First, with 78 minutes on the clock, substitute Adam Lallana shot agonisingly wide from 20 yards, and soon after Danny Welbeck struck the right-hand post with a deflected effort from a similar distance.

Brighton's chances took a major blow in stoppage time as Ben White earned his marching orders for a second booking when catching Callum Hudson-Odoi.

Although Chelsea could not steal a late win, the point takes them up to fourth in the Premier League – not that it will be anyone's focus after the fact.

Ed Woodward is to leave his role as executive vice-chairman of Manchester United, Stats Perform News understands.

The news came amid widespread speculation a planned European Super League is set to collapse.

Woodward was reportedly one of the driving forces behind the planned 12-team breakaway, which was announced on Sunday.

The proposals proved hugely unpopular and drew widespread criticism from fans, pundits and players – including United's own Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw – along with managers and politicians, with UEFA promising harsh sanctions for the clubs involved.

It is understood the 49-year-old Woodward was already set to leave the club at the end of 2021 and that he will continue to fulfil his duties until then.

Woodward's departure is said to be an amicable one and not related to the European Super League.

Often a decisive figure with United's fanbase, Woodward effectively acted as the club's chief executive, having previously advised the Glazer family during their takeover at Old Trafford in 2005.

Woodward took on a commercial role at the club two years later, before being appointed as an executive vice-chairman in 2012, following David Gill's retirement. 

Though he helped secure big-money signings such as Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes, Woodward's running of United has drawn much criticism.

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