Manchester United believe the Sun newspaper had “advance notice” of the attack on the house of Ed Woodward and have filed a complaint to Ipso, the media watchdog.
The incident occurred on 28 January, when a group wearing balaclavas launched flares at the Cheshire home of the club’s executive vice-chairman. Graffiti was sprayed on the front gates and intercom unit, with the house sign beside it defaced with red spray paint. One video was then posted on social media with the caption: “Ed Woodward’s gonna die.”
While it was widely reported, United’s view is that the Sun had a journalist and photographer already in place to document the attack.
A club statement said: “Manchester United has made a formal complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation (Ipso) regarding the Sun newspaper and its coverage of the attack on the house of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
“The complaint relates to the story ‘Ed Devils: Man Utd fans throw flares at Ed Woodward’s house in shocking scenes as anti-board protests continue to escalate’ carried online and on the back page of the print edition dated 29 January 2020. The club believes that the Sun had received advance notice of the intended attack, which included criminal damage and intent to intimidate, and that the journalist was present as it happened.
“The quality of the images accompanying the story indicate that a photographer was also present. Not only did the journalist fail to discharge the basic duty of a responsible member of society to report an impending crime and avert potential danger and criminal damage, his presence both encouraged and rewarded the perpetrators. We believe this was a clear breach of both the Ipso editors’ code and journalistic ethics.
“The decision to make a formal complaint to Ipso was not taken lightly. We will await its ruling with keen interest as an important test of the self-regulatory system for newspapers and its ability to uphold ethical standards in the press.”
The Sun has been contacted for comment.
No one was in the property at the time of an attack that marked an escalation of the tensions between supporters and Woodward, who is married with two young daughters. Fans, unhappy at the way in which the club is being run, have sung songs celebrating the death of the 48-year-old, who has become a figure of hate among some sections of the United support.