City chief Cook quits over email to cancer sufferer
The club launched the internal inquiry earlier this week after it was alleged Cook made light of cancer sufferer Dr Anthonia Onuoha’s condition.
Cook had denied he sent the message and claimed his email had been hacked, possibly by a rogue employee.
The club, however, have now concluded “there is foundation to Dr Onuoha’s allegations” and Cook has admitted to an “error of judgment”.
Cook, whose tenure has been blighted by several public relations gaffes, said: “I am privileged to have held my position at Manchester City Football Club and to have experienced the opportunities that it has presented.
“The privilege is in part offset, however, by the significant personal focus which has at times, detracted from the magnificent achievements of those working at the football club.
“It is that factor, together with my error of judgment in this matter that has prompted me to reach this decision, which I believe is in the best interests of the football club.”
The offending email, which was sent 11 months ago, only came to light this week.
The message had apparently been intended for City’s football administrator Brian Marwood but been sent to Dr Onuoha by mistake. Dr Onouha, who was representing her son at the time and was involved in a contract dispute with the club, had emailed Cook prior to that.
She had written that while she was “ravaged with cancer and ongoing chemotherapy” she was still able to fight on her son’s behalf.
The reply she received, addressed to ‘Brian’, read: “Ravaged with it! I don’t now how you sleep at night. You used to be such a nice man when I worked with you at Nike.”
Dr Onuoha this week said: “When I opened up my emails and saw the message, it was the worst day of my life. Even worse than being diagnosed with cancer.”
Cook apologised on behalf of the club to Dr Onuoha for the email but denied having sent it.
He said an investigation was being undertaken and that one employee was facing disciplinary action.
However, after further evidence emerged suggesting the email had originated from Cook’s iPad, the board looked into the matter.
City’s statement yesterday read: “Manchester City Football Club announce that the board-led review initiated on Monday of this week, as a response to allegations made to the football club, football authorities and a national newspaper by Dr Anthonia Onuoha, has been concluded.
“As a result, the club can confirm that there is foundation to Dr Onuoha’s allegations and the chairman has written to apologise to Dr Onuoha for any distress caused.
“Following the findings of the review, chief executive officer Garry Cook has offered his resignation, which has been accepted with regret by the board.”
Cook was appointed by previous owner Thaksin Shinawatra in 2008 and remained in position after overseeing the takeover by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s Abu Dhabi United Group later that year.
He continued to impress the new owners, steadily guiding the club towards their present position at the top end of the Barclays Premier League, but has occasionally made headlines for negative reasons.
These included referring to Thaksin, later found guilty of corruption in a Thai court, as a “nice guy”, and criticising former player of the year Richard Dunne.
Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak said: “Garry has made a remarkable contribution to Manchester City Football Club over the past three years.
“His judgment in this matter should in no way lead to his accomplishments being overlooked.
“On every level, the club is unrecognisable from the organisation which he inherited and our staff and supporter services, community outreach and commercial activity have seen unparalleled growth under his direction with yet more projects to be realised on the horizon.
“On behalf of Sheikh Mansour and the board, I would like to thank him for his energy and tireless commitment to serving all those connected with the football club.
“He will always be welcome at Manchester City.”
City director John MacBeath will fill the role of temporary chief executive officer while a replacement is sought.
On the pitch, Samir Nasri is in contention to play in City’s Barclays Premier League game against Wigan today despite breaking a bone in his hand on international duty.
Micah Richards (hamstring) is fit to play but Gareth Barry (ankle) will be assessed and Nigel de Jong (foot) could be out for another two weeks.
Defender Kolo Toure is available again after completing a six-month ban for failing a drugs test, but new signing Owen Hargreaves is not yet considered match fit.
New signing Raul Meireles could make his Chelsea debut today at Sunderland.
Petr Cech, David Luiz and Daniel Sturridge are also in contention for a starting place at the Stadium of Light, but Didier Drogba is still recovering from a head injury.
Cech is back sooner than expected from a knee problem, Luiz has recovered from a thigh complaint and Sturridge is available following his three-match ban, while Michael Essien (knee) is a long-term absentee.
Swansea travel to Emirate Stadium with boss Brendan Rodgers expecting his side to feel the force of an Arsenal backlash following their 8-2 capitulation against Manchester United.
Wolves have enjoyed a great start to the season, with two wins and a draw from their opening three game, and today face Tottenham.