Mason Greenwood, Manchester United return and what happens now after charges dropped
Thursday, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) dropped charges including attempted rape and assault against Mason Greenwood, a Manchester United forward and England international.
Since his arrest in January 2022, the 21-year-old has not played for United, and his future at the club is currently the subject of an internal investigation.
SportsDias now responds to the most important questions regarding his dropped criminal charges, United’s investigation, and the future…
What took place on Thursday?
Greater Manchester Police announced that criminal proceedings have been dropped against a 21-year-old man in connection with an investigation that began in January 2022, just over a year after Greenwood was arrested for the first time in relation to allegations involving images and videos.
The Crown Prosecution Service is the organization responsible for prosecuting crimes in England and Wales.
Greenwood was charged with attempted rape, assault resulting in actual bodily harm, and controlling and coercive behavior in October of last year. All three counts pertained to the same accuser.
Thursday, Greenwood’s representative released the following statement: “I am relieved that this matter is now over and I would like to thank my family, loved ones and friends for their support. There will be no further comment at this time.”
What do we know about Mason Greenwood case?
According to The Athletic, a source revealed “In this case a combination of the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. In these circumstances, we are under a duty to stop the case.”
During a hearing at Manchester & Salford Magistrates’ Court on Monday, October 17, the court was informed that the complainant had made allegations against Greenwood following an ABE (achieving best evidence) interview in January of that year. An ABE interview is a video-recorded interview with a vulnerable or intimidated witness where the recording is intended to be played in court at a later date. In April, she provided a retraction statement.
Greenwood’s barrister, David Toal, stated that his client had responded to questions during police interviews, provided phone passcodes, and turned over his passport, but had violated his bail conditions “for many months.”
He stated that the matter had been raised with police “on more than one occasion” by Greenwood’s attorney, and that the player’s attorney had acted “quite appropriately” by informing police of the planned publication of a photograph in a national newspaper that depicted Greenwood violating these terms on Friday, October 14.
District Judge Mark Hadfield deemed it a “serious breach” of bail and criticized the police for doing “nothing” to address the situation.
The prosecutor, Rebecca Jane Macaulay-Addison, responded, “There is a vulnerable complainant who now wants to retract her complaint.”
How Manchester United responded to the charges being dropped
Several hours after the CPS’s statement, Manchester United issued their own: “Manchester United notes the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service that all charges against Mason Greenwood have been dropped.
“The club will now conduct its own process before determining next steps. We will not make any further comment until that process is complete.”
How long will Man United Greenwood’s internal inquiry take and what is it going to look like
United has not provided a timeline for the investigation, but it is not expected to drag on for too long.
Manchester United’s owners, the Glazer family, are kept informed of developments, but as chief executive, Richard Arnold is ultimately responsible for the investigation. He will likely delegate to his senior team, which includes Collette Roche, the chief operating officer, and Annie Hale, the club’s human resources director.
United believed that Greenwood is similar to all of their other employees, so an external or independent investigation was unnecessary.
The club desires to comprehend the circumstances surrounding allegations made more than a year ago, which will necessitate historical knowledge and therefore may involve former employees as they seek the appropriate information sources.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was Greenwood’s manager from March 2019 until November 2021. Greenwood made his Champions League debut in March 2019 during United’s 3-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain. Greenwood was arrested while interim leader Ralf Rangnick was in charge; Erik ten Hag was appointed last summer.
Even though Greenwood was charged in October 2022, United did not begin their investigation until now. It was believed that interacting with Greenwood during the time he was under criminal investigation would have been inappropriate.
Uncertain is whether members of the men’s first-team squad or its leadership group will be consulted regarding the next course of action.
What now for Mason Greenwood in the short term?
Greenwood’s career is on hold until United completes their internal investigation. Even though he has not been officially suspended, he is effectively serving a suspension.
The 21-year-old England forward will not train with or play for United until a resolution is reached, and he is to avoid Carrington, the club’s training facility.
Given that the charges against Greenwood have been dropped and pending the outcome of the internal investigation, it is likely that the club will be considering what comes next, how he is reintegrated into the team, and how to support the player.
Throughout the criminal proceedings, the club continued to pay the forward’s salary, and that will not change during the internal investigation.
Additionally, a club representative was present at his bail hearing in October.
To date, the Professional Footballers’ Association, the players’ union, has not been involved in the case.
Will Mason Greenwood play for Manchester United again?
Currently, it is too early to say.
United must complete their internal investigation before deciding what action to take.
Notably, the Glazer family announced in November that they are exploring “strategic alternatives” for United, “including new investment into the club, a sale, or other transactions,” and the club is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange.
United must ultimately determine whether the reputational risk or public relations risk of continuing to employ Greenwood outweighs the financial benefit or his potential impact on the field for Ten Hag’s squad.
Greenwood is an exceptionally talented young footballer who is no longer facing criminal charges, but he has not played competitive football since January 22, 2022, when United defeated West Ham 1-0.
It remains to be seen whether he resumes his career at United, elsewhere in England, or abroad, and if so, how quickly.
Greenwood signed a new contract with United in February 2021, which runs from 2021 to 2025 with an additional year option.
His previous contract, signed in October 2019, was worth approximately £25,000 per week, but Manchester United increased his compensation to reflect his elevated status at the club.
He has been named to United’s Premier League squad for the past year and is also eligible to play in the Europa League as an Under-21 player.
In the “players” section of the club’s website, he is described as “an exciting striker who has advanced through United’s ranks well ahead of schedule.”
Can Manchester United sack Mason Greenwood?
Alex Clarke, an employment law expert at Onside Law, declined to comment on United and Greenwood, but provided a general overview of the available options for football clubs.
“Even if a player hasn’t been found guilty in criminal proceedings, a club will usually still want to carry out or continue its own internal process to determine whether they take any disciplinary action themselves, which may include terminating the player’s contract,” Clarke said.
“Termination of a player’s contract is one possible outcome, but the club would need to be able to justify it from an employment law perspective and show they had a fair reason for doing so.
“The standard of wrongdoing required to terminate an employment contract is not the same as the standard for a criminal conviction and, where details of a player’s conduct are made public during criminal proceedings, a club may have enough evidence to terminate for gross misconduct.
“A club may also be able to argue that the player’s continued employment is simply not tenable due to the damaging impact that retaining him may have on the club and that he has brought the club into disrepute.”
“Clubs do have the ability to terminate a player’s contract if they are found to be guilty of gross misconduct,” said David Seligman, a senior associate at Brandsmiths. “Examples of which are set out in a player’s contract and include things such as theft, incapacity due to drugs and alcohol and breaches of or failures to comply with of any of the terms of the player’s contract provided that it is sufficiently serious behaviour which the club’s board reasonably considers amount to gross misconduct.
“The question will be, does Greenwood’s alleged conduct encompass an instance where a player’s behaviour has brought the club into disrepute to the extent that the board considers it to amount to gross misconduct?”
Could Greenwood sue Manchester United if they choose to sack him?
“If a player feels he has been dismissed unfairly, he could bring a claim for unfair dismissal and he would effectively be claiming for the value of whatever is left to run on his fixed-term playing contract,” said Clarke.
“The Employment Tribunal caps the amount of money that can be awarded for these types of claims, but a player could conceivably make a similar claim in the civil courts to try to recover the full amount.
“That said, even if the player’s claim was successful, if he has secured a new club in the meantime, it is unlikely he would recover the full value of his contract as he would have already effectively mitigated his loss of any future earnings.
“Whether that claim is likely to be successful will depend on the particular circumstances and the weight of available evidence against him. In cases where a player has been acquitted of any criminal wrongdoing, he is likely to argue that any decision to dismiss him is at odds with a finding that he is innocent and is therefore unfair.”
What has the reaction been?
The Football Association declined to comment on whether or not it has or will investigate the social media posts about Greenwood that surfaced last year.
The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) and the Manchester United Women’s Supporters Club declined to comment on whether Greenwood should play for the club again.
On Thursday, opinions were divided across social media platforms.
Thursday was not a training day for United’s women’s team, and it is unclear whether their players or staff will be consulted about the club’s next steps.
Gary Neville, former Manchester United player and current Sky Sports pundit and commentator, liked and retweeted two tweets from former chief prosecutor Nazir Afzal that called Greenwood “an innocent man” and stated “you are innocent until PROVEN guilty.”
Neville un-retweeted the tweets shortly after and then posted: “I liked a tweet relating to the Mason Greenwood news this afternoon from Nazir Afzal. ( the former director of public prosecutions ). This like is being misinterpreted. It was a clumsy like as I obviously condemn any violence against women.”
Women’s Aid did not issue a statement regarding Greenwood, but the organization’s chief executive, Farah Nazeer, commented on domestic violence in general.
“We know it takes incredible courage for a woman to report sexual and domestic abuse, which is why it is so crucial that they receive the right response when they make that first step, but they must be confident that they will be believed and that action will be taken on their behalf,” said Nazeer.
“We will continue to push for evidence-led prosecutions which reduce the need to rely on the victim’s testimony. This is crucial because of the high number of domestic abuse cases that are dropped because the victim no longer feels able to support a prosecution, often due to the severe barriers and safety implications of taking an abuser to court.”
How did we get here?
Greenwood was arrested and detained on Sunday, January 30, 2022, on suspicion of rape and assault, after Greater Manchester Police (GMP) “became aware of online social media images and videos posted by a woman reporting incidents of physical violence,” according to a press release.
On the same day, Manchester United announced he would not play or train for the club “until further notice,” but refrained from suspending him formally out of respect for due process.
Greenwood was arrested again on February 1 of last year on suspicion of sexual assault and making death threats. He was released on bail the following day.
A club statement issued after his release on bail read, “Manchester United reiterates its strong condemnation of violence of any kind. As previously communicated, Mason Greenwood will not train with, or play for, the club until further notice.”
He was removed from FIFA, eFootball, and PES, and on February 7 a Nike representative stated, “Mason Greenwood is no longer a Nike athlete.”
United stated at the end of March, in response to inquiries about why Greenwood was still listed on the club’s website, that “there has been absolutely no change in Mason’s status.”
On Friday, April 29, it was announced that he would remain on conditional bail until mid-June, and a hearing on June 23 did not alter the situation.
Greenwood was arrested on October 15 for allegedly violating his bail conditions and remained in custody.
The CPS announced later that day that he had been charged with attempted rape, assault resulting in actual bodily harm, and controlling and coercive conduct. The CPS added that all three counts relate to the same complainant.
The club said: “Manchester United notes that criminal charges have been brought against Mason Greenwood by the Crown Prosecution Service. He remains suspended by the club, pending the outcome of the judicial process.”
On Monday, October 17, Greenwood appeared before the Manchester & Salford Magistrates’ Court and spoke only to confirm his name, date of birth, and address.
Then, Greenwood was remanded to custody after a district judge determined he had violated the conditions of his bail in relation to allegations of attempted rape and other offenses. Wednesday, October 19, after a private hearing, he was released on bail.
On November 21, he appeared before the Manchester Crown Court (Minshull Street) and was ordered to return on February 10, 2023.
The lead prosecutor, Jason Pitter KC, then proposed a provisional trial date of November 27, 2023, which Judge Maurice Greene and Greenwood’s defense agreed to.
On Thursday, February 2, Greater Manchester Police issued the following statement: “Criminal proceedings against a 21-year-old man in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022 have, today, been discontinued by the CPS.”
Chief Superintendent Michaela Kerr, GMP’s Head of Public Protection, added: “Given the significant media coverage of this case, it is only fair that we share the news that the 21-year-old man, who had been arrested and charged in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022, no longer faces criminal proceedings in relation to this.
“The investigation team has remained in regular contact with the legal team, providing any updates of note, and so understand the rationale for the discontinuation of proceedings at this stage, and that this decision has not been taken lightly.
“Despite the media and public’s interest in this case, we have decided not to comment on it in any further detail.”
Mason Greenwood, Manchester United return and what happens now after charges dropped