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Lessons Learned: Why Man United Had to Let Go of Sam Barnett

Lessons Learned: Why Man United Had to Let Go of Sam Barnett

The arrival of Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his team from Ineos has sparked a lot of change to take place behind the scenes at Manchester United.

The Red Devils’ former CEO Richard Arnold already left before the British Billionnaire’s acquisition of a 25% ownership stake in the club was confirmed and followed his predecessor Ed Woodward, who left the club in 2022.

With Sir Jim’s team going through chops and changes at Old Trafford, it appears that another one has bitten the dust at the upper-management level. As per Training Ground Guru, Manchester United’s negotiations manager Sam Barnett has now also exited the club.

The Englishman had joined the club back in December 2016 as a ‘Player Accountant’, whose role was to spend his time looking into the players’ contract extensions and other details.

Barnett is a Chartered Accountant who had also worked for a few years at the multi-national firm Ernest and Young (EY) before opting to accept the role at Old Trafford.

He was not really that well known by the fans either because of his remote role and responsibilities as a Player Accountant.

After working as a Player Accountant for a few years, Barnett was ‘promoted’ to the role of Football Negotiations Manager at Old Trafford and worked with Director of Negotiations Matt Judge at the club.

Normally in other clubs, it’s the director of football or other high-level executive to negotiate terms of a transfer or player contract extension – but Manchester United created their own team to look after that process.

After Matt Judge left in 2022, Barnett worked with his short-term replacements before opting to leave the club.

Barnett is now attracting a lot of hate from the Manchester United fans, who blame him for being responsible for organizing some of the poor transfers in recent years.

He’s being blamed for the one who negotiated the deal to sign Antony for a whopping €100 million fee from Ajax in 2022 and other poor deals like signing Jadon Sancho for £73 million from Borussia Dortmund.

However, Barnett did not have that much influence or say in any of the Manchester United senior team’s transfers or about how much should be paid.

It was actually Matt Judge who spearheaded the negotiations process to sign the likes of Antony and Sancho, with Barnett probably using his skills as a Chartered Account to advise him on how to structure the financial deals without causing the club to get in trouble with FFP (financial fair play).

Moreover, Barnett’s primary work was in looking after the player contracts and negotiations regarding those in the Women’s and Academy teams.

He supported matters for the first team when required, but spent most of the time helping with the negotiations to sign players for the Women or Academy sides and player contract extensions for the same.

During his period in this Negotiations Manager at Old Trafford, the Red Devils were able to sign the likes of Alejandro Garnacho and recent debutant Willy Kambwala in 2020 – with Barnett working into negotiations on the details and finances of those deals.

Hence, he probably did a pretty decent job in ensuring that the Red Devils didn’t pay over-the-top odds at least at the youth level.

With that being said, it could be his history and qualification which might’ve led to Barnett’s departure from Old Trafford.

In this new era, Jim Ratcliffe would probably want more football people with experience managing in the beautiful game to be orchestrating negotiations behind the scenes over a former banker with little real experience in the professional football scene.