Woodward distances Man Utd from ‘ignorant’ transfer speculation

Man Utd executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward believes continuing speculation around big-money transfers “ignore the realities that face the sport” due to the coronavirus crisis.

Six weeks have passed since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men last took to the field, roaring to a 5-0 victory at LASK in a Europa League tie played in front of empty stands due to Austria’s coronavirus restrictions.

The Premier League announced the immediate suspension of matches the following day and there remains no clear return date, stretching the finances of clubs at all levels of the football pyramid.

Woodward says everyone in all walks of life are “grappling with such extraordinary challenges” and the Man Utd chief outlined a challenging outlook to supporters in a quarterly fans forum held via conference call on Friday.

He also suggested that speculation regarding world-record moves for Harry Kane or £120m agreements with Jadon Sancho were wide of the mark.

“We will continue looking for more ways of supporting those in need for as long as the pandemic continues,” he said in his opening remarks.

“This is consistent with our values as a club, our strong roots into our community, and the deep relationships we have with our fans.

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“It is also important to acknowledge the part played by our successful business in allowing us to fulfil our social responsibilities.

“We have always believed that our commercial model gives us greater resilience than most clubs and we are grateful for the enduring support of our commercial partners in helping us achieve that.

“However, nobody should be under any illusions about the scale of challenge facing everyone in football and it may not be ‘business as usual’ for any clubs, including ourselves, in the transfer market this summer.

“As ever our priority is the success of team, but we need visibility of the impact across the whole industry, including timings of the transfer window, and the wider financial picture, before we can talk about a return to normality.

“On this basis, I cannot help feeling that speculation around transfers of individual players for hundreds of millions of pounds this summer seems to ignore the realities that face the sport.”


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