Man United raid rivals as new chief quits City to join Radcliffe Revolution

Omar Berrada

Manchester United have poached Omar Berrada as its new chief executive in an audacious snatch from rivals Manchester City.

He is currently working as chief football operations officer for City Football Group overseeing 11 clubs across five continents and, prior to this, held senior roles at Barcelona.

While Patrick Stewart will continue as interim CEO, the move is a clear signal from Ineos chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe that he is serious about hitting the ground running once he formally takes control at Old Trafford. Under the terms of his purchase of a 25% stake in Manchester United worth £1.3 billion last month, Ineos will have control over all major football decisions. 

Ratcliffe and Ineos sporting director Sir Dave Brailsford attended the recent 2-2 draw with Tottenham, with Ratcliffe sitting and talking with Sir Alex Ferguson in the director’s seats.

Brailsford has been instructed to do an audit of the club’s football operations, on what looks set to be a big overhaul at Old Trafford. This weekend it was also confirmed that Brailsford has bid farewell to colleagues at the Ineos Grenadiers cycling team to concentrate on his new football project.

In a statement Manchester United FC said of Berrada’s appointment: “The Club is determined to put football and performance on the pitch back at the heart of everything we do. Omar’s appointment represents the first step on this journey.

“As one of the most experienced football executives at the top of European football, Omar brings a wealth of football and commercial expertise, with a proven record of successful leadership and a passion to help lead change across the Club. 

“It is our stated ambition to re-establish Manchester United as a title-winning club. We are pleased that Omar will be joining us to help achieve that goal, so that, once again, United fans can see, in the words of Sir Matt Busby, the red flag flying high at the summit of English, European and world football.”

Berrada describes himself on his LinkedIn profile as “a C-suite sports executive with expertise in the management of club business and football operations, including player transactions, sponsorship and media rights with 20 years of senior-level experience in the football industry and 5 years in the telecommunications sector.”

He is understood to have been highly regarded by the owners of Manchester City and his recruitment is seen widely as a huge move by the new regime.

As well as hanging out with Ferguson, essential to understanding the beating heart of Old Trafford, Ratcliffe has also met with rebellious fan groups such as the Manchester United Shareholders Trust (MUST) whose chief executive Duncan Drasdo said of the private meeting: “I’ve not felt so positive about the future of Manchester United since the dark days of the 2005 takeover.”

He added: “Time will tell but I’ve spent much of the last 25 years feeling like there was no light at the end of the tunnel so you’ll forgive me if I dare to feel just a little optimistic now.”