Richard Arnold is stepping down as Manchester United chief executive after less than two years in the job, with Patrick Stewart taking interim control as a permanent successor is sought.
Arnold has been with the Premier League club since 2007, working as commercial director before becoming group managing director in 2013.
The departure of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward saw him take up the role of chief executive in February 2022, but United have confirmed he is leaving his post.
Stewart, the club’s legal officer and general counsel, is stepping up as interim CEO at Old Trafford.
United said in a statement: “Richard Arnold has decided to step down as Chief Executive of Manchester United after 16 years with the club.
“Patrick Stewart will take over as interim CEO, in addition to his existing role as General Counsel, with Richard continuing to provide transitional support until the end of December.
“A search process will be carried out for a new permanent CEO.”
The development comes as Sir Jim Ratcliffe edges closer to becoming minority shareholder of United.
Ratcliffe’s Ineos group is expected to pay in the region of £1.25billion for a 25 per cent stake in the Old Trafford club, while also acquiring significant control over footballing operations.
PA understands no announcement about that deal is expected on Wednesday.
Sources close to Ineos indicated they were not involved in Arnold’s departure, but it seems likely that further change will be afoot once the deal is signed.
The 52-year-old outgoing chief executive said: “It has been an incredible privilege to serve this great football club for the past 16 years.
“Through highs and lows, the constant has been the dedication of our employees and fans.
“I would like to thank all of them for their loyalty and commitment, and wish everyone associated with the club the very best for the future.”
Arnold has had a lot to deal with during his short time in the post and was criticised for his handling of the Mason Greenwood situation.
United executive co-chairman Joel Glazer said: “I would like to thank Richard for his outstanding service to Manchester United over the past 16 years, and wish him all the best for his future endeavours.
“We are fortunate to be able to call on the deep knowledge and experience of Patrick Stewart to provide interim stability and continuity as we embark on a search for a new permanent CEO.”
Stewart has worked for United since 2006 and is seen as a safe pair of hands as the ownership identify Arnold’s long-term successor.
The interim chief executive said: “Together with my leadership team colleagues, my job will be to ensure that the club’s foundations remain stable while we embrace changes that can make us stronger over the long term, on and off the pitch, and to support the search for a new permanent CEO.”
United sit sixth in the Premier League under Erik ten Hag, whose side are out of the Carabao Cup and facing a fight to make the Champions League knockout phase with two group matches remaining.