Oldham-born Townsend took up the post in 2004 when Paddy Harverson left to become the Prince of Wales’ communications director. Previously, he was press secretary to the then Minister for Sport, Richard Caborn.

Townsend’s tenure at the club has seen the club consolidate its position as the world’s most valuable football brand, with seemingly no product category now exempt from becoming one of the club’s lucrative partners. It hasn’t all been plain sailing however – Townsend was heavily involved last year in managing the comms crisis that followed the abandonment of a game when what was subsequently found to be a training device – but at the time looked very much like a mobile phone attached to a gas pipe – was found in a toilet cubicle within the Sir Alex Ferguson stand.