Omar Berrada’s decision to quit the Etihad to become Manchester United’s new CEO, came as a bolt out of the blue for both City and United fans.
Berrada – City Football Group's chief football operations officer – is said to have ‘agonised’ over his switch to Old Trafford after 13 years at the Etihad.
It’s a move that has provoked arguments, speculation and intrigue across the football spectrum, not least those who are claiming he’s ‘jumping from a sinking ship’, as judgement draws closer on the 115 Premier League charges facing City.
Paris-born Berrada has built an impressive CV within the CFG, initially as Manchester City's commercial director, before going onto the roles of chief operating officer and, more latterly, that of chief football operations officer.
A City statement read: "Manchester City Football Club can confirm that Omar Berrada has resigned from his role as chief football operations officer at City Football Group. The club understands his decision to look for a new challenge and he leaves with our thanks and best wishes."
It is understood he will be on ‘gardening leave’ until the summer.
Since joining in 2011, Berrada has been a vital and prominent cog in City’s ‘money-making machine’, negotiating lucrative commercial sponsorships and endorsements.
Fair to say he’s been part of the inner sanctum comprising Chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, CEO, Ferran Soriano, Director of Football, Txiki Begiristain and Pep Guardiola, privy to most – if not all – of City’s dealings.
On this premise alone, his new appointment makes for interesting analysis.
For all their catalogue of comedic hirings over the past 10 years, the perceived wisdom is that United will have done their due diligence before making such a critical and pivotal appointment.
Would United’s ‘saviour’ Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his INEOS team have chosen Berrada if they thought he was a crook – an individual mired in the alleged financial malpractices of Manchester City?
If the United hierarchy believe City are going to be found guilty of the spurious Premier League charges, don’t they realise their shiny new CEO could be swiftly categorized as damaged goods, potentially liable to severe and far-reaching football sanctions?
Slowly, but surely, there seems to be a growing body of opinion – at least among those with a modicum of intelligence – that the Premier League ‘prosecution’ will fail.
The only charge of which City might be found guilty, is that of non-cooperation with the Premier League investigation.
It would be the same outcome as when City smashed UEFA at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, back in 2020. UEFA’s case – more like a flimsy carrier bag – fell apart under scrutiny by CAS.
City didn’t cooperate with UEFA’s witch hunt then and are not doing so with the Premier League’s reworked version now.
The anti-City lobbyists e.g. United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs – the list goes on – claim that any non-cooperation by City should be seen as a sign of guilt.
It’s a ridiculous assertion.
Why would any business or organisation fall over themselves to help those seeking to prosecute them? It’s common practice in any litigation – civil or criminal – that the accused party seeks to defend themselves by all means possible.
If you know somebody is ‘gunning for you’, why would you hand the aggressor a loaded magazine to help shoot you down?
It’s obvious to all those associated with City that the Premier League is pursuing a malicious prosecution at the behest of – amongst others – the Red Cartel.
By appointing Berrada, United – one of the principal protagonists desperate to damage and defame City – may have indicated they know the PL prosecution is doomed to fail.
Such linkage might be viewed as something of a stretch by some. It could simply be a case of Berrada being made a financial offer he couldn’t refuse, along with the chance to be the top man – the Chief Executive Officer – albeit at an inferior club.
It’s alleged by some fans who participated in forums between City and the supporters, that Berrada made no secret of the fact United were a prime mover in striving to trash City’s achievements and reputation.
However, this cannot be verified due to confidentiality agreements signed by the individuals concerned.
The fact United are entrusting their future to Berrada is testament to the extremely high calibre of City’s executive management team.
These would be the same key individuals accused of fraud, corruption and cover ups – already found guilty by so many ignoramuses in the court of public opinion.
It really doesn’t add up and only serves to solidify City’s supreme belief and confidence that they have done nothing wrong.
Bring on the so-called ‘Independent Tribunal’!
By David Walker