Manchester United and Mason Greenwood have drawn criticism after the footballer said he'd been "cleared of all charges" in a statement on his departure from the club.
On Monday, the Premier League club confirmed the 21-year-old striker's departure - he had been suspended since January 2022 over allegations of abuse involving a young woman.
Greenwood was facing charges of attempted rape, controlling and coercive behaviour and assault, before the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) announced in February that they'd been dropped as key witnesses withdrew from the case.
Greenwood remained suspended as the club decided how to move forward, leading to a prolonged period of uncertainty.
United eventually released a statement on Monday saying it had been "mutually agreed that it would be most appropriate" for him to move on.
This is despite the club claiming it had "concluded that the material posted online did not provide a full picture and that Mason did not commit the offences in respect of which he was originally charged".
A couple of observations, from a lawyer’s perspective:
He wasn’t cleared of all - or any - charges. The charges were dropped. So Greenwood’s statement, which I assume was agreed with the club, is misleading.
The club statement: “we have concluded that the material uploaded… https://t.co/A0fz2afnlL
— Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) August 21, 2023
Meanwhile in a separate statement, Greenwood said: "I was brought up to know that violence or abuse in any relationship is wrong, I did not do the things I was accused of, and in February I was cleared of all charges. I take my share of responsibility for the situations which led to the social media post."
Greenwood has now been accused of making a misleading claim in his statement, with barrister Adam Wagner saying: "He wasn’t cleared of all - or any - charges. The charges were dropped. So Greenwood’s statement, which I assume was agreed with the club, is misleading."
Picking apart Man Utd insisting the footballer did not commit the offences "for which he was originally charged", Wagner questioned if the club had deliberately chosen "careful language".
Writing on X (formerly known as Twitter), he said: "Do they mean he may have committed other offences? And did they get advice from a criminal lawyer - because the reports all say it was the club’s general counsel who provided the legal input."
Wagner also drew attention to Manchester United saying it had "no plans" for Greenwood to return after a loan, suggesting the club appears to be "hedging bets".
After all, he points out that the club initially seemed willing to "reintegrate" the striker, but now appear to have "changed their minds" following a furious backlash from a number of fans.
"Not contested" - more careful words https://t.co/hAC6ScTfuo
— Adam Wagner (@AdamWagner1) August 22, 2023
He added: "If there is an alternative, innocent explanation for the information in the public domain the club could release it. If there isn’t, then why was the plan to reintegrate him?"
The prospect of Greenwood being brought back onto the first team prompted plenty of anger, with Countdown co-host Rachel Riley tweeting: "I won't be able to support United if Greenwood remains at the club.
"As an example, when it comes to VAWG (violence against women and girls), less than 1 per cent of rapes reported to police lead to conviction. We've all seen and heard enough. Pretending this is ok would be a huge part of the problem."
Watch: Where could Mason Greenwood relaunch his football career after parting ways with Man Utd?
After Monday's announcement, Riley added: "Something necessary to point out. Greenwood's statement states that Greenwood was 'Cleared of all charges'.
"Mason Greenwood has never been cleared of any charges. The charges were dropped by the accuser." (Although they were really dropped by the CPS).
Journalist and Times Radio presenter Stig Abell tweeted: "Mason Greenwood saying he has been “cleared of all charges” is simply not true. Whatever this PR-soaked compromise is, it is not a moral victory for anyone."
Yahoo News UK has contacted Manchester United for comment.