Sam Barnett, a key figure in Manchester United’s negotiations team, has ended his seven-year tenure with the club, as reported by Training Ground Guru.
Barnett, who joined the club in December 2016, initially took on the role of Player Accountant, focusing largely on player contracts. His expertise in this field was honed through his prior experience in auditing, including a two-and-a-half-year stint at EY, a professional services firm.
Barnett’s career at Manchester United saw a significant shift in January 2020 when he stepped into the role of Football Negotiations Manager. In this capacity, he worked in tandem with the club’s former Director of Negotiations, Matt Judge.
Manchester United stands out, possibly uniquely, for having a dedicated negotiations team, a concept introduced by Ed Woodward, the former Executive Vice-Chairman, and John Murtough, the current Football Director. The team’s main objective is to develop and implement strategies for transfer dealings.
Following Matt Judge’s departure in April 2022, Tom Keane, a lawyer and the brother of Everton defender Michael Keane, filled the position on an interim basis until September 2022. Then, in July 2023, Matt Hargreaves, formerly the Sports Marketing Director at Adidas, joined the club as the new permanent Director of Negotiations.
The negotiations team at United, under the guidance of Hargreaves, handles contract discussions with clubs, players, and their representatives. A significant aspect of these talks often includes image rights, with data science playing a critical role in guiding financial decisions.
This structure is somewhat different from other clubs, where such negotiations are typically managed by the Sporting Director and Head of Recruitment.
Barnett’s responsibilities primarily centered around the Women’s and Academy teams, although he also provided support for the first team as needed. In the lead-up to the Brexit regulations coming into force on December 31, 2020, which prohibited English clubs from signing foreign players under 18, United focused on recruiting overseas talent in the 16 to 21 age range.
Among the notable signings during this period were Alejandro Garnacho from Atletico Madrid at age 16, Willy Kambwala from Sochaux also at 16, and Alvaro Fernandez Carreras from Real Madrid at 17. Garnacho has since become a regular in the first team, Kambwala made his debut in December, and Fernandez Carreras is currently on loan at Benfica.