CHIEF EXECUTIVE Ben Mansford will leave Leeds United on May 31 with co-owner Andrea Radrizzani hailing him as a “major factor” in the club’s resurgence.
Mansford joined the Whites from Barnsley last summer, playing a key role by assisting in the process to bring investment to Elland Road in the form of new co-owner Radrizzani.
Radrizzani owns 50 per cent of the club alongside fellow co-owner Massimo Cellino, but the former is expected to complete a 100 per cent buy-out of the Whites next week.
United’s new co-owner had always been keen to recruit West Ham managing director Angus Kinnear, who was marketing director at Arsenal before joining West Ham in 2013 and dealt with Radrizzani – then one of the owners of sports media rights firm MP & Silva – during his time with the North London club.
Both Radrizzani and Cellino have heaped praise on the outgoing Mansford, who helped steady the ship during his time at the Whites and will leave held in high esteem by those remaining at Elland Road.
“We would like to thank Ben for his hard work and dedication during his time at the club,” said Radrizzani.
“Ben has been a major factor in the club’s resurgence in the past 12 months, commercially and in the community. He has been a great support to (head coach) Garry Monk and played an important role in my investment process.
“On behalf of all at the club we wish Ben every success in the future.”
Fellow co-owner Cellino added: “Working with Ben has been a positive and enjoyable experience and I would like to personally wish him all the best going forwards. I have no doubts he will succeed in his next venture.”
Mansford joined the club in June and the chief executive looked on as United took just two points from their first three league games. But the subsequent 2-0 success at Sheffield Wednesday is one the outgoing chief executive will always remember.
In a letter addressed to the club’s fans, Mansford said he would depart Elland Road “in awe” of the club’s support and convinced that 2016-17 will prove the foundation for a Whites return to the “very top.”
Leeds are facing up to their 13th consecutive season outside of the top flight having looked certain to finish in this season’s play-offs when holding an eight-point gap over the chasing pack with eight games to play.
United eventually finshed seventh, but that was still the club’s best league finish since 2011 when the Whites also finished seventh under Simon Grayson.
Mansford said: “We have enjoyed some incredible highs together over the past season, none more so than at Hillsborough in September when we saw the first signs of everything coming together, and Brighton at home, when you showed that on your day you can beat anyone in this division.
“I feel that once the dust settles, the history books will show this season was the start of the club’s journey back to the Premier League. Not only did this season bring together a team of players that the fans could unite behind, but you secured a proper and truly appropriate new custodian of Leeds United in Andrea.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to Garry Monk, his backroom staff and all the players who have represented Leeds United during this season. It is a very special group which has reconnected with the fans and followed Garry into battle every week.”
Mansford added: “My biggest thank you is to the supporters of Leeds United – you have left me in awe at times this season. You have travelled up and down the country in huge numbers and made Elland Road a fortress again. I sincerely believe the foundations have now been laid to allow this club to go back to where you belong and deserve to be – the very top.”
United have said an announcement on Mansford’s replacement will be made in the coming days.