Louis Edwards

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Louis Charles Edwards (15 June 1914 – 25 February 1980) from Salford, Lancashire, was an English businessman who was most notable for being chairman of Manchester United from 1965 until his death in 1980.

Biography[edit]

Manchester United[edit]

Edwards was from Salford and educated at a Catholic Grammar School but he left at the age of 14 to work in the family business, which was meat packaging and processing. He was a Manchester United fan from childhood. In World War Two he joined the Hussars and was based in India, Africa and the Middle East.

Edwards's father, also called Louis Charles, died on 13 February 1943. He left Louis 77 shares and his younger brother Douglas 75. The business rapidly expanded in the 1950's, and in 1961 Edwards's company had contracts worth 393,000 a year and provided meat for 300,000 schools. The following year it was floated on the stock exchange, making both brothers a lot of money.

Edwards first met Matt Busby in 1950, and they established a friendship from then onwards. From the mid 1950s he was an investor in Manchester United and joined the club's board of directors the day after the Munich Air crash in February 1958. He became club chairman in June 1965 upon the death of Harold Hardman, overseeing United's success in winning the Football League First Division twice, and the European Cup in 1968, and by the early 1970's was the majority shareholder. The upgrade and development of Old Trafford occurred under his chairmanship.

On 5 February 1979 he sold his business to Argyll Foods and retired from it, devoting his full time energies towards Manchester United.

Controversies[edit]

Meat contracts corruption and malpractice[edit]

As an investigation by the Granada Television/ITV investigative journalism series World in Action, broadcast on the ITV network on 28 January 1980, alleged that such dominance had in fact been achieved through bribing school officials in order to win lucrative contracts in cities such as Manchester.[1]

Granada had spent 12 months compiling the evidence. The investigation claimed that his company supplied condemned meat that was unfit for human consumption to be used in school dinners.[2]

Youth team corruption[edit]

The investigation also claimed how Manchester United had a secret fund for bribing parents of young players the club wished to recruit. In one case in the early 1960's it was alleged that a bribe of £5,000 was paid to the parents of Peter Lorimer, a promising young player whom the club had wanted to recruit. The bung was in fact later returned when the player chose Leeds United instead though this was a clear breach of football association rules.[3]

Death[edit]

Investigations by the police into Edwards's dealings were never completed. Louis Edwards suffered a heart attack and died whilst in the bath on the evening of 25 February 1980.[4] The FA decided against a formal investigation and merely discussed the issue. The case was dropped.[5]

References[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
Harold Hardman
Manchester United F.C. chairman
1965–1980
Succeeded by
Martin Edwards