Woodward responds to fans' questions
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward feels football is “not complete” without supporters, but acknowledges that Government guidelines may mean a return to action behind closed doors is the only option available.
Speaking at the Fans' Forum last Friday, Woodward made it clear that everybody's health was, of course, the main priority during the coronavirus pandemic that has necessitated a halt to football.
As plans are explored in an attempt to conclude the 2020/21 campaign when it is deemed safe to do so, he explained his thoughts on the subject and also stressed the club's continued long-term commitment to backing manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the transfer market, even if it will not be "business as usual" when the window reopens.
"I think we all agree that we want supporters back watching football at Old Trafford as soon as possible," said Woodward. "But that can only happen when we are advised it is safe to do so and, clearly, the Government has a major say in that.
"No decisions have been made yet but we think it is possible that the initial games, particularly the ones related to finishing or trying to complete this season, will probably have to be played behind closed doors. But that is not confirmed yet.
"We're not necessarily happy about that. Clearly, football requires our fans in the stadium for it to be complete, but public health must come first and, as I said, this is down to the Government."
It was reiterated that, despite the present uncertainty, there is a determination to complete the season. However, he did not anticipate any potential move to play the Premier League games abroad.
"I've not heard anything on that," he said. "I would expect our remaining domestic games to be played in England."
Some fans will still be keen to hear the latest on the transfer front, even though the next window will surely be hugely impacted, as Ed has already intimated. Nonetheless, the club's main aim is to continue competing for the best talent and improving the squad, once it has more certainty about a path through the current crisis.
“It’s always a top priority for us to strengthen the team and build on what Ole is very clearly achieving in terms of bringing us back to the top,” added Woodward. “But we’ve got to have clarity on what the future holds.
“Clearly, it’s true we are fortunate to be in a strong financial position compared to many clubs, but we are not immune from the financial impact of what this virus is doing.
“As I said before and I’ve said this many times - we remain committed to backing Ole to win trophies. That’s our core objective as a club.”
See the full minutes from the latest Fans’ Forum meeting here: www.manutd.com/fansforum.