Louis Edwards (1914-1980)

About Man Utd - an encyclopaedia of Manchester United Football Club

About Man Utd - an encyclopaedia of Manchester United Football Club
Manchester United Football Club - Louis Edwards (1914-1980) Man Utd Louis Edwards (1914-1980) - Louis Edwards (1914-1980)

Manchester United personnel » Louis Edwards (1914-1980)

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Louis Edwards was a director of Manchester United for over twenty years and Chairman between 1965 and 1980.

Edwards hailed from Salford and, with his brother Douglas, built a very successful meat business. At it's height, the business owned some seventy butchers shops in Lancashire and Cheshire, as well as having access to numerous other retail outlets. Edwards was a Manchester United supporter from his early days and, as such, was delighted, in the early 1950s, to make the acquaintance of manager, Matt Busby. A friendship developed and, in 1958, when Manchester United was looking for a new director, Busby nominated Edwards. The nomination was opposed by one of the then directors, George Whittaker, only for Whittaker then to collapse and die a few days later. This was in February 1958, just a few days before the club's fateful trip to Belgrade. Edwards had been invited to accompany the team on that trip, but on Whittaker's death he remained in Manchester for Whittaker's funeral. Another possible director, local businessman Willie Satinoff, travelled in Edwards' place and perished in the accident at Munich. The day after the Munich air disaster, 7 February 1958, Louis Edwards was unanimously elected to the Manchester United board.

From the beginning, Edwards was a staunch supporter of Busby - so much so, that many accused him of being completely in Busby's pocket. He supported Busby's rebuilding of the side after Munich, encouraging the investment in players. In the early sixties, Edwards set about buying up shares in Manchester United. Within a few years he was the major shareholder and, in 1965 when the then chairman Harold Hardman died, Edwards took his place. Edwards was a proud part of the success Manchester United enjoyed in the 1960s, which culminated in the winning of the European Cup in 1968.

The years that followed, were more difficult. Busby retired and the club won little. The meat business was also in difficulties, with the Edward empire in danger of crumbling. His relationship with Busby became strained. Edwards failed to support the election to the board of Busby's son, Sandy. Busby failed to support Edwards' suggested rights issue, designed to bring in money for both the club and the meat business. The rift between the two encouraged journalists from Granada's 'World in Action' to begin investigations. These ended up, in 1980, as a programme accusing Edwards of corruption both at the club (unauthorised payments to the parents of young footballers) and in his business (shady deals to win local authority meat contracts). Shortly after the programme was broadcast, Louis Edwards had a heart attack and died. Police investigations were begun, but not pursued.

During his time at Manchester United, Edwards allowed Busby almost complete control. That may have been his greatest gift to the club. Following his death, Edwards was succeeded as Chairman by his son, Martin.

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