After years of campaigning and discontent, tangible change at the top of Manchester United looks to be on the horizon.
With Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s imminent investment in the club, personnel alterations are being made to the top brass to reflect the power the new investor has. One of those is a change of chief executive officer (CEO) and a man named Jean-Claude Blanc appears in line to take that role.
Richard Arnold vacated the position in November after two years in the role, having taken over from Ed Woodward, leaving with Ratcliffe’s INEOS group finalising their 25% minority investment in the club. You may wonder why a 25% investment calls for a change of CEO, but Ratcliffe is expected to be handed serious sporting control despite the Glazers still being heavily on the scene.
It may not be the full change of ownership millions of fans want to see, but it is a potential stepping stone towards a time when the Glazer family does not hold any power over United.
Here’s everything you need to know about Blanc, the prime candidate to take the CEO role.
Fans may be wondering why Blanc is the person Sir Jim Ratcliffe has chosen.
As you might expect, he was an employee of Ratcliffe’s company, INEOS, and is overseeing the sports portfolio for the group, which includes OGC Nice and Lausanne-Sport. His involvement also spreads to cycling and Formula 1, with INEOS a major sponsor of the Mercedes team.
Considering his extensive experience working in sports management both for Ratcliffe and elsewhere, it’s no surprise the Englishman wants his French colleague involved in this latest venture.
Speaking to L’Equipe about Blanc, an INEOS team member revealed: “He is brilliant. He is a super pro who is excellent at building relationships. His arrival is fantastic for us.”
If he were to be handed the job at United, it remains to be seen how his role at INEOS would change. Being the CEO of Man Utd is hardly a job that can be taken lightly, especially with one of the biggest fan bases in the world tracking every move and decision.
There is plenty in the 60-year-old’s professional life to suggest he will be able to cope with the demands of working for United.
He has worked extensively in the sports marketing sphere over the last 20 years, managing events such as the Winter Olympics, the Tour de France, the Paris Dakar, the French Open and the Davis Cup.
Apart from football, tennis is perhaps the sport he has the most experience in. He was the CEO of the French Tennis Association between 2001 and 2006, taking charge of the French Open (Roland Garros), the Paris Master Series, and the Davis Cup / Fed Cup tennis events when staged in France. It is generally regarded as a very positive period of time for tennis in France.
Fans will rightly be wondering what qualifies him to work for a huge football club, but his time at Juventus means he does have experience in that realm.
He joined the Italian giants when Juventus had just been relegated to Serie B amid the Calciopoli scandal. A major rebuild was needed and he was a big part of why they came straight back up. Blanc renegotiated a number of major business contracts and helped the club recover financially from the relegation, leading to his appointment as chairman of the board in October 2009.
While that was a more extreme situation than the one Man Utd are currently in, the ability to steady a ship in a financial sense and combine it with on-pitch recovery and success should appeal to fans. Similarly, Blanc could be an ideal appointment when it comes to renovating or replacing Old Trafford.
He was a major driving force behind Juventus building and moving into the Allianz Stadium in 2011, something that has really set the club apart from their Italian rivals in a commercial sense. It’s the only stadium privately owned by an Italian football club and was built to modern standards, meaning stadium revenues are maximised.
It’s no secret Old Trafford is in need of a lot of work. Blanc’s knowledge can help there, but he may be of even more use were Man Utd to move stadium altogether at some point down the line.
As well as all of this experience at Juventus, Blanc has also worked as a marketing executive at Paris Saint-Germain in the past.