Ed Woodward will be stepping down from his position at Manchester United on February 1.
The club confirmed on Thursday that Woodward would be vacating the Executive Vice-Chairman role in order to make way for Richard Arnold, who is set to succeed him as Chief Executive Officer.
Woodward had been pulling the strings as Old Trafford since taking over from David Gill in 2013, overseeing one of the most tumultuous periods of the club in the modern era.
End of the Ed Woodward era
In fact, it’s fair to say that more than a few United fans would opine that Woodward has been largely responsible for the inconsistency that has defined the club’s progression without Sir Alex Ferguson.
Not only has Woodward overseen the sackings of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but he has pulled the trigger on many an expensive signing for the club.
There are no shortage of vocal critics when it comes to the manner in which Woodward has handled the club’s recruitment with disastrous signings like Alexis Sanchez blighting the last eight years.
While, yes, there have certainly been successful purchases such as Bruno Fernandes, the general feeling is that United’s spending policy has been a little too haphazard under his stewardship.
Transfer spending under Woodward
Well, maybe ‘balanced out’ was an ambitious statement because Transfermarkt data has revealed some alarming figures when it comes to United’s net spend since Woodward has been in charge.
Using their ‘Transfer income and expenditure’ tool and setting the date range from the 2013/14 season to the present day, we can see how top clubs have spent their cash in the Woodward era.
Net spend compared to other clubs
The result? Well, it makes for pretty sickening reading if you’re a United fan because the Red Devils have the second-highest net spend of any club in world football under Woodward’s leadership.
With their spending of £1.22 billion barely touched by the £363.47 million that they managed to recoup, only United’s ‘Noisy Neighbours’ can top the negative £869.51 million left on their books.
However, just to put those alarming numbers into context as United fans wave goodbye to life under Woodward, let’s check out the clubs with the biggest net spend between 2013 and 2022 below:
25. Wolfsburg – net spend of £155.93 million
24. Napoli – net spend of £167.12 million
23. Shanghai Port – net spend of £175.93 million
22. Fulham – net spend of £181.50 million
21. RB Leipzig – net spend of £185.30 million
20. Brighton & Hove Albion – net spend of £195.08 million
19. Newcastle United – net spend of £197.19 million
18. Crystal Palace – net spend of £199.22 million
17. Leicester City – net spend of £202.84 million
16. Wolverhampton Wanderers – net spend of £209.24 million
15. Tottenham Hotspur – net spend of £209.84 million
14. Inter Milan – net spend of £214.77 million
13. Liverpool – net spend of £246.00 million
12. Aston Villa – net spend of £253.12 million
11. Bayern Munich – net spend of £275.76 million
10. Chelsea – net spend of £312.53 million
9. West Ham United – net spend of £315.07 million
8. Juventus – net spend of £322.65 million
7. Everton – net spend of £325.96 million
6. AC Milan – net spend of £438.96 million
5. Barcelona – net spend of £475.13 million
4. Arsenal – net spend of £562.20 million
3. Paris Saint-Germain – net spend of £629.91 million
2. Manchester United – net spend of £854.40 million
1. Manchester City – net spend of £865.91 million
Well then, it’s fair to say that there are plenty of surprises, even if United will just be happy that their city neighbours have flushed a few more £1 million cheques down the toilet than they have.
It’s certainly remarkable to see that West Ham, Everton and Arsenal have all racked up a higher net spend than Chelsea over the last eight years despite the Blues’ reputation for heavy spending.
And Barcelona fans must be counting their lucky stars that they didn’t amass even more net spend when you consider the financial difficulties that they’ve found themselves in from fifth place.
However, even with United ‘only’ finishing second, the fact that they’ve spent £850 million more on transfers than they’ve managed to recoup under Woodward really does make for brutal reading.
Whether or not the Arnold era will be a case of normal service resumed remains to be seen, but it’s clear that not many United fans are losing sleep about Woodward leaving the club in February.