Manchester United’s embattled CEO Richard Arnold has met up with the club’s former chief executive David Gill for a spot of lunch following what has been a nightmare week for the 51-year-old.
The pair were pictured at Italian restaurant Cibo in Hale Village, Cheshire on Tuesday with Arnold likely using Gill as a sounding board, days after he was secretly filmed having a forthright conversation with United fans in a pub.
Footage of the discussion, in which Arnold criticised the transfer policy of his predecessor Ed Woodward and admits the club ‘f***ing burned through cash’, emerged over the weekend.
Man United CEO Richard Arnold (left) has met the club’s former chief executive David Gill (right) for a spot of lunch on Tuesday in Cheshire
Gill (left) and Arnold (right) are pictured leaving the Italian restaurant Cibo in Hale Village
The lunch meeting comes days after Arnold was secretly filmed by a group of United fans he spoke with in a Cheshire pub – with the candid discussion leaking out into the public domain
The United supremo also pleaded with fans to stop the protests that ruined the mood at Old Trafford towards the end of the season.
Arnold said the last 12 months had been a ‘f***ing nightmare’ and that England players returned to the club after their defeat in last summer’s Euro 2020 final with their confidence ‘shot’.
Arnold admitted to them that the situation was bleak but assured them he was working hard to rectify it.
United were left disappointed that footage of the frank conversation, filmed by the fans present, went viral on social media after Arnold asked them not to video the chat.
And now it appears that Arnold could be seeking the advice of Gill, who spent 10 years as CEO after joining the club in 1997, over the situation and the upcoming season.
Gill spent 10 years as CEO at United after joining the club in 1997, and oversaw Sir Alex Ferguson win nine Premier League titles and two Champions League triumphs
The meeting also suggests that Arnold is closer to Gill than his predecessor Woodward, who is said to have interacted with Gill in the directors’ boxes on occasions but the pair never had a close relationship – certainly not close enough to seek the former chief executive for advice, reports claim.
Arnold, who became the first person to hold the CEO title at United since Gill in 2013, was appointed to succeed Ed Woodward as United’s chief executive in February and his first major move has been to appoint Erik ten Hag as manager after United finished sixth, 35 points behind champions Manchester City.
In a statement on Sunday morning, a spokesperson for United said: ‘Richard heard that a group of fans had gathered in a pub near his house.
‘He went to meet them, bought them all a drink, listened to their views, and explained what the club is doing to deliver success on the pitch, improve the stadium, and strengthen engagement with fans.’
Arnold (right) took over as United’s chief executive after Ed Woodward’s departure in February
Arnold’s first major move has been to appoint Erik ten Hag as manager after a poor season
The United chief labelled last season as a ‘nightmare’ for the club as they finished sixth
In an honest appraisal of United’s recent history, Arnold on Saturday told the group of supporters: ‘We spent a billion pounds on players, more than anyone in Europe.
‘I’m not thrilled where we are. It doesn’t sit easy with me and I worry how we get this sorted for the future. What’s happened is we have f***ing burned through cash.
‘You can’t go to our training ground and say “show me where the £1billion is” because we haven’t spent money well historically.
‘Last year was a f***ing nightmare. There was hate at every game. We’ve blown through an enormous amount of money.’
Arnold also claimed that ‘money is not a consideration’ when it comes to pursuing Ten Hag’s transfer targets, with Barcelona and Holland midfielder Frenkie de Jong, valued at £69m, top of the summer shopping list.
One of the fans recorded part of the conversation and posted the video onto social media
Arnold told the fans: ‘Money is not a consideration in who we want.
‘It’s that the manager wants him, that they’ve actually done the work on looking if he’s a great player.
‘Is it £100million or £200million? I don’t know. Get who you f***ing want.’
He added, in a dig at Woodward’s hand-on approach to transfer negotiations: ‘Do you want me buying the players? Doesn’t that ring a bell?’