Manchester United have finally ditched Mason Greenwood - it’s disgraceful it took so long

Manchester United have finally ditched Mason Greenwood - it’s disgraceful it took so long

Manchester United belatedly made the correct decision on Mason Greenwood when they announced yesterday that the forward would continue his career "away from Old Trafford".

Anyone who has heard the audio of a man's voice — it has never been denied that it is Greenwood — and seen the accompanying images which emerged in January last year, prompting his arrest and suspension from the club, would have known immediately and instinctively that he should never play for the club again.

It is staggering that it took so long for United to reach that conclusion when pursuing a different outcome would have been a feat of moral bankruptcy and mental gymnastics. Yet, pursue another outcome United apparently did.

The club deserves scant credit for yesterday's decision, given it appears to have effectively been backed into a corner by reporting from The Athletic and the reaction of club staff, supporters, MPs and other external stakeholders.

 (Pool via REUTERS)
(Pool via REUTERS)

As of the middle of the last week, United reportedly still planned to reintegrate Greenwood into the first team before the pressure presumably became intolerable, speaking to a vacuum of leadership at the top of the club. The club has not denied these reports.

What kind of message would United have sent if Greenwood was able to simply carry on his lucrative career at the biggest club in the world with practically no consequences? What would it say about football's attitude towards women?

In an apparent attempt to justify its dithering and pursuit of a different outcome, the club claimed in its statement that "we have concluded...that Mason did not commit the offences" he was originally charged with: namely attempted rape, assault and coercive behaviour.

There has been no further explanation of this line, which felt tone deaf, and underlined that United appeared to be looking at the situation from a solely legal — rather than moral — standpoint.

It is also hard to shake the feeling that, even if subliminally, football considerations were an underlying factor in the delay. Greenwood is a fabulous centre-forward, which Erik ten Hag's team lack.

Allowing chief executive Richard Arnold to lead the club's internal investigation, with help from senior staff, was a mistake when an external barrister or panel would have been more impartial.

Greenwood's statement, meanwhile, contained an inaccuracy, with the 21-year-old acknowledging "mistakes" but claiming "I was cleared of all charges".

In fact, the charges were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service in February after key witnesses withdrew their involvement and new material came to light — an important distinction morally and legally.

It should not be forgotten that in the year to September 2021, just 1.3 per cent of rape cases recorded by UK police resulted in a suspect being charged (or receiving a summons), while it is also widely known that victims of abuse often return to their abusers.

These two facts should have been the lens through which United viewed the situation, but the club has bungled the process from the start.