Shares in Manchester United PLC ended a volatile session on the New York Stock Exchange down 6% following the collapse of the European Super League and the pending departure of club boss Ed Woodward.

A statement revealed that Woodward is to step-down from his role at the end of 2021.

Elsewhere reports in some media outlets claimed that the Glazer family, United’s American owners, may seek to exit their majority shareholding.

Woodward, United executive vice-chairman, oversees the running of the club on behalf of the Glazers. His links with the Glazers began when as a M&A advisor for JP Morgan he brokered the leveraged buy-out of the club for the family (which also own the current NFL Superbowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Woodward was subsequently brought on board at United in finance and commercial roles, before taking over from David Gill in 2013.

A through-line to JP Morgan can be drawn again with United, via the Super League, which was to be backed by a JP Morgan financing package of US$3.5bn. Notably, JP Morgan also has ties to Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke, given the American bank’s recent financing of a new mega-stadium built for the LA Rams (the NFL team Kroenke also owns).

Reports in the media, citing club insiders, said his departure was already planned but the announcement had been brought forward and it’s claimed it was not a reaction to the bungled breakaway league.

United’s share price moved lower still in after-hours trading to be priced at US$15.90 per share.

It marks a retreat from gains seen on Monday, up to as high as US$17.80, as the club’s owner and co-chairman Joel Glazer announced the formation of the Super League alongside twelve other of Europe’s top flight teams.

Evidently, it proved to be a hugely unpopular and short-lived venture for the six English clubs involved.

In short order players, coaches, pundits, influencers and politicians were vehemently opposed to the proposals.

Football governing bodies UEFA and FIFA threatened that players for the breakaway clubs would be banned from international competition including this summer’s European Championships and next year’s World Cup, whilst the clubs set to compete in the semi-finals of this year’s Champions League and Europa League could be ejected from those tournaments.

Fans protested outside stadiums and by Tuesday evening the first of the clubs’ commercial deals was terminated as Tribus Watches, Liverpool FC’s ‘official time partner’, announced they would end their association with the club.

Less than 48 hours after official statements confirmed the breakaway plan, the cabal of English clubs quickly fell apart as initially Chelsea and Manchester City said that they would withdraw, triggering a scramble among other clubs to follow suit.

Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool, and Manchester United later also confirmed their exits.

At the same time, in Europe, Barcelona’s participation looked all but cancelled as the club said it would only join the Super League if their fan base approved the plan (and acceptance clearly would not be forthcoming).

The Super League, diminished in number, said in a statement late on Tuesday it remained convinced the proposal is fully aligned with European Law and regulations and it would “reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project”.

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