Ferguson not the only key departure from Manchester United
The timing of Sir Alex Ferguson’s resignation as Manchester United manager has been described as “surprising” by a football business expert, as it comes at the same time as the departure of two other key management figures at the club.
Ferguson took charge at Old Trafford in 1987. The success he has inspired on the pitch has underpinned the commercial success of the club off it. It is now the third highest revenue earner in world football with £320 million income in 2011/12.
High profile staff
Ferguson’s departure however occurs only weeks before two other high-profile staff members will leave their posts at Old Trafford. Chief executive David Gill is leaving, and property services manager George Johnstone is retiring.
Gill joined Manchester United plc in 1997 as finance director. In 2003 he was promoted
to chief executive, a role he continued to fulfil after the
club became a private limited company in 2005 under the ownership of the Glazier family.
In February, Gill announced he was leaving his post this summer, prompting Ferguson to say: “Him stepping down is a big loss to me. If I could have found a way of persuading him to stay I would love to have done that.”
‘Scale of change’
During his 15 years at the club Johnstone has overseen major redevelopments at the football ground and at Carrington, Manchester United’s training ground to the west of the city. During this period Manchester United has also bought two nearby Trafford Park industrial estates totalling 50 acres.
Tom Cannon, professor of strategic development at the University of Liverpool Management School and an expert on the business of football, said: “It’s very unusual for such a successful organisation as Manchester United to be going through this scale of change.
“Successful organisations like continuity so allowing three key strategic operational people to leave in such a short period of time may be worrying for fans.
“It could be that the Glazier family are going to be a lot more heavy touch in their involvement with the club in the future.”
Gill, who is to be replaced by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, will remain on the Manchester United board. He is said to be pursuing a place on the European football authority Uefa’s executive committee.