Who Is Manchester United’s New Arab CEO?

A few facts about the business tycoon

Months ago, circulating rumors had it that Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the current emir of Qatar, was set to take over English football club Manchester United. Despite the acquisition never materializing— for a myriad of reasons ranging from competitiveness and complex negotiations to regulatory hurdles and financial fair play— the failed procurement still managed to reignite debates about the growing influence of foreign investors, particularly from Arab nations, in football. And although the British Premier League giant was not handed over to the ownership of a regional figure, the recent appointment of French-Moroccan business tycoon Omar Berrada as the team’s new CEO mirrors another axis through which the Middle East and North Africa will assert its influence on one of the sport’s most esteemed institutions.

Undergoing significant changes in hierarchy over the past few weeks, the Glazer family, which have been the club’s majority stakeholders for over two decades, agreed on welcoming a new actor into Manchester United’s structure this month, namely Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who now commands 25% in equity of the Red Devils. As the team ushers itself into a new era, Berrada’s appointment marks their co-owner’s first strategic move at the helm of the English side with the intent of putting “football and performance on the pitch back at the heart of everything.”

“It is our stated ambition to re-establish Manchester United as a title-winning club. We are pleased that Omar will be joining us to help achieve that goal, so that, once again, United fans can see, in the words of Sir Matt Busby, the red flag flying high at the summit of English, European, and world football,” the club shared in a statement.

After years of disappointing results, all hopes are put into the club’s newest signing to bring them back to their former glory through a vision that prioritizes football excellence. Although his start date is still under wraps, in light of his tenure, below, everything you need to know about the North African executive poised to hopefully change the narrative for one of the world’s most decorated crests.

He has three degrees

Berrada originally intended to pursue a career in engineering. Coming through an American schooling system in Morocco, he enrolled in a course at a university in Massachusetts before realizing that the subject was no longer aligned with his interests and aspirations. Withdrawing from the program after six months only, he decided to explore business as an alternative in Spain. He now holds three diplomas from three different schools in Catalonia with a Bachelor’s Degree from EU Business School, a Master’s Degree in E-commerce from Universitat Ramon Llul, as well as a PDD in General Management from IESE Business School.

He speaks five languages

Born in Paris to Moroccan parents while also having spent substantial amounts of time in Spain, United’s new CEO can communicate in five languages, namely French, English, Spanish, Catalan, and Arabic.

FC Barcelona was his first foray in football

After working as a business development manager at Italian internet provider Tiscali in Madrid, Berrada joined FC Barcelona in January 2004 as the club’s head of sponsorships and remained in this role until August 2011. This initial experience marked his first significant venture into the realm of sports management and marketing, a journey that he would continue for two decades.

He was a key piece in Manchester City’s success

Following his six-year-long spell at Barcelona, Manchester City recruited Berrada’s services in September 2011 where he occupied several roles for 10 years. Starting as the club’s head of international business development, he worked his way up from being the director of partnership sales and senior VP group commercial director to CEO by September 2016. In his time, he oversaw the management of 11 clubs belonging to Manchester City’s football group across five continents.

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