Countdown co-host Rachel Riley accuses Manchester United of ‘green-lighting abuse’ and ‘turning an alleged abuser into a victim’ with their support for Mason Greenwood, despite ‘mutual decision’ to axe him after rape claims
Countdown co-host Rachel Riley believes Manchester United chief executive Richard Arnold should be considering his position over his handling of the Mason Greenwood case.
Life-long United fan Riley had threatened to stop supporting the club if they’d allowed the 21-year-old to return to the team after he was suspended.
Charges of attempted rape, assault and coercive control against Greenwood were dropped in February but United and the forward mutually agreed he won’t play for them again after conducting their own internal investigation.
Riley, speaking to The News Agents, said United had ‘absolutely mismanaged’ the Greenwood situation and said she had ‘never been more ashamed of the club.’
She accused the club of ‘green-lighting abuse on social media’ and said their support for Greenwood had ‘turned an alleged abuser into a victim.’
Manchester United fan and Countdown co-host Rachel Riley, who had threatened to stop supporting the club if Mason Greenwood was allowed back, has said chief executive Richard Arnold should be considering his position over his handling of the case
Arnold has been at the forefront of United’s internal investigation into Greenwood
Greenwood won’t play for United again after both parties mutually agreed he would leave
Asked whether Arnold should consider his position, Riley said: ‘Yes, yes I do. I’m someone who has seen it first hand through supporting my friend with domestic abuse.
‘Four years ago, I wouldn’t have known anything about this. I wouldn’t have even been in a position to comment at all.
‘But I’ve seen first hand how little is known, even amongst professionals who are supposed to be dealing with this – I include the police, I include social services.
‘If they don’t know the intricacies, I don’t know how a CEO at Manchester United who has multi-million pounds at stake is in any position to make a judgement on what has happened especially having not consulted domestic abuse charities.
‘Not only that, having not consulted them, putting them on a list, calling them hostile to the idea that he would come back.
‘I think it’s been absolutely mismanaged. I have been a Man United supporter since before I was born. My dad has been going since 1960.
‘I’ve had my babies’ Man United stuff ready when they were in the womb and I’ve never been more ashamed of the club. I think it’s just a disgrace.
‘They had another opportunity to make it right, make a good statement and they have just green-lighted the abuse that’s been going on on social media to claim innocence, to turn the alleged abuser into the alleged victim, which is classic, DAVRO [‘Deny, attack and reverse victim and offender’] technique.
‘I am so disappointed.’
Greenwood had been unable to train with his team-mates during the period of his suspension
Charges of attempted rape and assault were dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service in February but United have spent the last six months carrying out their own investigation
Asked again about whether Arnold should be considering his position, Riley added: ‘Yes I do. I say this with such a heavy heart. As a fan, I grew up, these players are heroes. Manchester United players, for little kids, they’re your heroes.
‘For me, I did Manchester United as my subject on Mastermind, I have been lucky enough to go and work at the club, to do charity events, to meet the players, to meet the managers to go to the directors’ box for matches. It’s like my ultimate dream.
‘I would love more than anything in the world to give that to my daughters. But I can’t not speak out.
‘I mean, what I risk as a fan, or someone who gets all these privileges, compared to what a domestic abuse victim survivor risks by coming forward, even though she or he may not be believed, it is nothing.
‘But I just don’t agree with what’s happened at all.’
A group of Man United supporters protested before the club’s first home game of the season, outlining their opposition to reintegrating striker Mason Greenwood into the first team
One disgruntled Manchester United fan held up a sign telling the club not to ‘not leave the decision up to the women’s team’ labelling the hierarchy as ‘spineless motherless f****’
Last week, Riley declared she would stop supporting United if Greenwood was welcomed back into Erik ten Hag’s squad.
The forward has not played for the Premier League giants since his arrest in January 2022 for attempted rape, assault and coercive control.
Those charges were dropped in February but United didn’t lift their club suspension as they conducted an internal investigation.
Riley tweeted to her 684,000 followers: ‘I won’t be able to support United if Greenwood remains at the club.
‘As an example, when it comes to VAWG (Violence Against Women and Girls), less than 1 per cent of rapes reported to police lead to conviction.
‘We’ve all seen and heard enough. Pretending this is ok would be a huge part of the problem.
‘It would be devastating for my club to contribute to a culture that brushes this under the carpet and send a message to perpetrators everywhere that you can continue to act as you wish with no consequences.
‘I really hope they do the right thing.’
Greenwood’s last outing for United came in a home win over West Ham in January 2022
On Monday, United confirmed Greenwood is to leave the club after the conclusion of their probe. He is likely to leave on loan or see the remainder of his contract settled.
United found Greenwood did not commit the offences which he was charged with but has also concluded it would be best for all if his future was away from Old Trafford.
In a lengthy statement, United added: ‘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.
‘That said, as Mason publicly acknowledges today, he has made mistakes which he is taking responsibility for.’
Greenwood said: ‘I was brought up to know that violence or abuse in any relationship is wrong, I did not do the things I was accused of, and in February I was cleared of all charges. I take my share of responsibility for the situations which led to the social media post.
‘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. I thank the club for their support since I joined aged seven. There will always be a part of me which is United.’
Arnold explained that United had considered reintegrating Greenwood but that his responsibility was to ‘minimise any distraction to the unity we are seeking within the club’
In his statement, Arnold said: ‘While we were unable to access certain evidence for reasons we respect, the evidence we did collate led us to conclude that Mason did not commit the acts he was charged with.’
Riley retweeted the News Agents clip on Tuesday afternoon, as well as a screen grab of a tweet backing Greenwood.
She wrote: ‘United missed an opportunity to show zero tolerance to domestic abuse.
‘Criminal charges being dropped following key witnesses dropping out is not equivalent to ‘being cleared’ and the statements yesterday were gaslighting. This is the natural result.’
In a further series of posts, she wrote: ‘Right decision, horrendous statement [from Arnold].
‘The only people in a position to ever assert guilt or innocence re domestic abuse allegations are trained, qualified, experienced experts.
‘This goes far beyond the scope of what @manutd were tasked with.
‘The Q before them was not whether MG may be found guilty in a criminal, or even civil court, it was whether he’s fit to wear the @manutd badge, to be a role model to kids who look up to footballers as heroes, and have his name proudly display on shirts sold in the club shop.
‘To even pretend that was a possibility after the footage we hard and photos we’ve seen is gaslighting.
‘And to suggest a domestic abuse victim withdrawing complaints is equivalent to proof of innocence, or having been cleared, is ignorant.
‘It is absolutely right a thorough investigation should take place.
‘Yet domestic abuse experts could have used their knowledge to help United navigate the process so we could trust the outcome.
‘And no external party with no vested interests would have been far more credible.
‘To my knowledge, United didn’t consult domestic abuse charities until the backlash started on Friday, and even labelled them as those who would be ‘hostile’ to Greenwood’s return.
‘DA is far too complex for anyone inexperienced to determine with any degree of reliability.’
She concluded: ‘This overreaching statement will put wind in the sails of abusers and send a message to victims it’s more trouble than it’s worth to report abuse.
‘It’s so disappointing to see my club contribute to the culture that upholds this.’