Manchester United chief executive Richard Arnold met with fan protesters at a pub on Saturday afternoon in a bid to calm tensions over ongoing anger regarding the direction of the club.
A group of United fans had planned to protest outside Arnold’s house, but were intercepted by the man himself at a local pub where the group had agreed to meet beforehand. He then fielded questions, which served to defuse the situation and the protest did not go ahead.
Videos of the impromptu meeting have surfaced on Twitter, with Arnold heard to discuss a number of issues, including the Glazer family’s ownership and the status of the United’s attempts to sign Barcelona midfielder Frenkie de Jong, among other things.
Some of those in attendance have said they are not fully satisfied with all of the responses, but Arnold, who took over from Ed Woodward in February, at least appears to have earned the respect of the protesters by facing them head on and taking questions.
One of those present stated on Twitter that Arnold is ‘far, far better then Woodward and will do a better job’. However, they were convinced he was still ‘protecting the Glazers’ and approached the situation ‘like a true politician’.
“He’s basically asking for a clean slate because he’s just started his role. He’s saying that none of the last 17 years is his fault,” another of those present told Joe.
In the aforementioned videos posted on social media, Arnold explained he is ‘not thrilled’ with the situation that United are in and that the club haven’t done well with £1bn spent on players.
“What’s happened is we’ve f***ing burnt through cash – you can’t go to that training ground and say, ‘Show me where that £1bn is,’ because I don’t think we’ve done well with the money we’ve spent.”
But Arnold insisted that ‘…the money that the manager and director of football wants is there’.
The same fan also told Joe, “He said [John] Murtough is working from six in the morning until 10 at night trying to get the De Jong deal done. There’s £200m for transfers.”
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However, with regard to cash required for bigger projects such as redeveloping Old Trafford or investing in new training facilities, Arnold was adamant that the club needs more to be able to do those things, through extra investment.
“For the future and investing in a new stadium and that sort of stuff – a latest and greatest £250m training ground, we’ve got to get investors in and I need that to do what I want for the club. I’ve got to have more cash than we have now,” he explained.
“No club in the world has the money to do a new stadium without getting it from someone – you either borrow it or someone invests it. You may not like our current owners…I can’t help that.”
Arnold told fans that targeting sponsors as a form of protest is not helping the club, which is where some of the protesters disagreed, as their sole motive remains to hurt United financially to a point where the Glazer family decides to sell.
Tellingly, Arnold alluded to his general lack of involvement in footballing operations, asking rhetorically at one point, “Do you want me buying the players? Doesn’t that ring a bell?”, which could be perceived as a dig at the previous setup.