(Reuters) -Manchester United forward Mason Greenwood will leave Old Trafford, he and the Premier League club said on Monday, to avoid being a “distraction” despite being cleared of allegations of assault and attempted rape.
Greenwood, who was suspended by United in January 2022 when accusations against him surfaced on social media, was charged with attempted rape, controlling behaviour and assault last October.
He had been due to stand trial on Nov. 27, 2023, but all criminal charges against him were dropped in February, with the Crown Prosecution Service saying it was due to “the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light”.
United said their investigation began once charges were dropped.
“Based on the evidence available to us, we have concluded that the material posted online did not provide a full picture and that Mason did not commit the offences in respect of which he was originally charged,” the club said in a statement.
But it said “all those involved, including Mason” recognised the difficulties with him recommencing his career at Manchester United.
“It has therefore been mutually agreed that it would be most appropriate for him to do so away from Old Trafford, and we will now work with Mason to achieve that outcome,” it said.
In a statement to British media, Greenwood said he had “made mistakes”, adding: “I did not do the things I was accused of.
“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.”
Greenwood came through United’s youth academy and made his first-team debut in 2019 aged 17. He was a key member of the side in the 2021-22 season, making 18 Premier League appearances before being suspended.
“I thank the club for their support since I joined aged seven. There will always be a part of me which is United,” added Greenwood, who also played once for England in 2020.
“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.”
Last week, British media reported that United were considering Greenwood’s return to the squad, following which a group of fans staged a protest outside Old Trafford ahead of United’s season-opening win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
In an open letter addressed to the club’s fans, CEO Richard Arnold said the club had considered several outcomes, one of which was Greenwood’s reintegration into the squad, before coming to their decision.
“This case has provoked strong opinions, and it is my responsibility to minimise any distraction to the unity we are seeking within the club,” Arnold said.
“Although we have decided that Mason will seek to rebuild his career away from Manchester United, that does not signal the end of this matter.
“The club will continue to offer its support both to the alleged victim and Mason to help them rebuild and move forward positively with their lives.”
Domestic violence charity Women’s Aid said United’s decision to part ways with Greenwood will be a “relief for many survivors of domestic and sexual abuse”.
“… the way that alleged domestic abuse cases are treated in clubs has a huge impact on public understanding about what is accepted and tolerated in society,” a spokeswoman for the charity added.
(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Nick Macfie)
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