Mason Greenwood will leave Manchester United after both parties concluded it would be inappropriate for the forward to continue his career at Old Trafford.
United will instead work to find Greenwood a club elsewhere after chief executive Richard Arnold concluded an internal investigation in which he decided that the 21-year-old did not commit criminal offences and that audio of him sounding as though he was trying to force himself upon a woman did not represent the full picture.
Criminal charges of attempted rape, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and controlling and coercive behaviour were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in February.
But Arnold determined – and Greenwood agreed – that it would be better if he were to move elsewhere and discussions are continuing as to whether his contract will be terminated or if he should be sold or loaned.
Greenwood, who has been suspended by United for 18 months, said he had made mistakes, accepted his reputation was damaged and vowed to be a “better person” in the future.
He said: “I want to start by saying I understand that people will judge me because of what they have seen and heard on social media, and I know people will think the worst. I was brought up to know that violence or abuse in any relationship is wrong, I did not do the things I was accused of, and in February I was cleared of all charges [the charges were actually dropped by the CPS when key witnesses withdrew their involvement and new material came to light].
United fans protested against Greenwood’s return (FFAGR2023/Twitter)
“However, I fully accept I made mistakes in my relationship, and I take my share of responsibility for the situations which led to the social media post. I am learning to understand my responsibilities to set a good example as a professional footballer, and I’m focused on the big responsibility of being a father, as well as a good partner.
“Today’s decision has been part of a collaborative process between Manchester United, my family and me. The best decision for us all, is for me to continue my football career away from Old Trafford, where my presence will not be a distraction for the club. I thank the club for their support since I joined aged seven. There will always be a part of me which is United.
“I am enormously grateful to my family and all my loved ones for their support, and it is now for me to repay the trust those around me have shown. I intend to be a better footballer, but most importantly a good father, a better person, and to use my talents in a positive way on and off the pitch.”
Greenwood, who currently has two years left on his contract, scored 35 goals in 129 games for United and has been capped once by England.
Greenwood appeared in court in Manchester before charges were dropped (Getty Images)
Arnold, who said he was shocked when he heard the recording of Greenwood, said it was not a “quick or straightforward process” and noted the alleged victim had dropped her complaint.
He stated: “When audio footage and imagery was posted online in January 2022, my feelings were of shock and concern for the alleged victim. Her welfare, wishes and perspective have been central to the club’s approach ever since, as have the club’s standards and values. While we immediately concluded that Mason should be suspended pending investigation, we were also conscious of our duty of care towards him.
“While I am satisfied that Mason did not commit the acts he was charged with, Mason’s accepted that he has made mistakes which he takes responsibility for. I am also mindful of the challenge that Mason would face rebuilding his career and raising a baby together with his partner in the harsh spotlight of Manchester United. Further, this case has provoked strong opinions, and it is my responsibility to minimise any distraction to the unity we are seeking within the club.”