Ben Lazarus Ben Lazarus

How did United handle the Mason Greenwood scandal so badly?  

(Photo: Getty)

It’s hard not to be shocked by the distressing clip shared online, allegedly featuring the Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood. In the clip a woman can be heard trying to stop a man forcing her into having sex. The audio was uploaded in January last year alongside images of the alleged victim looking bruised and battered, with blood running down from her mouth.  

When the clip was released, Manchester United responded by suspending the now 21-year-old Greenwood. But they stopped short of tearing up his contract. This was the first big mistake the club made. They could have saved themselves a huge amount of hassle (and appalling publicity) had they, at the time, accused him of bringing the club into disrepute and parted ways. Yes, they might have had to pay for breaking his contract, but that was the only sensible option.  

What is staggering is just how catastrophically United failed at basic crisis communications

The CPS, who initially charged him with attempted rape, assault and controlling and coercive behaviour, worked on the case for a year before dropping it after witnesses wouldn’t comply and new evidence came to light. This led to Manchester United’s second big mistake: the club launched its own investigation in February after the CPS’s decision. This five-month probe – which reportedly did not involve the alleged victim, but involved speaking with her mother – concluded yesterday, and led to Greenwood being binned by United as a result. This was a huge U-turn after the reports last week that the club was planning to bring him back into the fold. ‘Based on the evidence, we have concluded material posted online did not provide a full picture and that Mason did not commit the offences of which he was originally charged,’ read the official statement from the club.   

It isn’t exactly clear what United uncovered during those five months.

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