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Manchester United chief Ed Woodward met with government officials days before ESL launch

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward met with government officials just a few days before the launch of the European Super League, revealed a report from the Independent.

The Premier League’s ‘Big six’ clubs – United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea joined the ill-fated breakaway league last weekend.

The new tournament was developed without a competitive spirit in mind, giving the 12 entrants a free pass into European football every year.

The announcement of the ESL drew furious criticism from fans, pundits and players worldwide. 

As a result of the massive public outrage, English clubs were forced to withdraw their participation from the planned league within 48 hours.

But the Independent has now claimed that Woodward had a formal meeting with the No 10 chief of staff, Dan Rosenfield, last Wednesday.

The topic of this meeting was “around COVID restrictions and the return of fans to the stadium” and there was “definitely no discussion of the Super League”.

Due to the absence of fans inside the stadium, the clubs are not able to collect the matchday revenue which forms a great share of their revenue.

Prime minister Boris Johnson was not in the meeting with Woodward, although sources “could not rule out that they may have met each other elsewhere in the building”.

Johnson had branded the league as a “cartel” and promised a ‘legislative bomb’ to stop the breakaway tournament.

Downing Street refused to say whether or not a breakfast meeting was held.

They also declined to comment if Woodward discussed the ESL proposal with them. The Labour party has called for transparency over the meeting.

Jo Stevens, Shadow Secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, told the Independent: “Downing Street should release the minutes in order to clear up any confusion and avoid accusations of hypocrisy.”

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