Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United's loss will be UEFA's gain following David Gill's decision to stand down as chief executive.
Gill will leave his post after 16 years in the summer, although he will retain a position on the United board. The move has been prompted by a desire to seek a place on the influential UEFA executive committee, with concerns being raised about Gill's ability to combine that role with his status as the administrative leader of one of the world's biggest clubs.
"He spoke to me about it some weeks ago," said Ferguson. "I was surprised because he is still a young man. But I can understand exactly where he is coming from. Sixteen years at United in that particular position is not easy. He will do fantastic with UEFA and he will contribute greatly to the game in general."
Though Gill will remain in the shadows, his decision creates an element of uncertainty at Old Trafford.
Ed Woodward, who has overseen the massive progress made by the Red Devils' commercial department, will take over many of Gill's responsibilities. It is, however, envisaged Woodward will remain based at the club's London offices, with current commercial director Richard Arnold becoming the most senior figure at Old Trafford.
The situation has been likened to that encountered at Arsenal following the exit of David Dein, whose departure was viewed by many as the start of that club's decline. Yet Ferguson does not view the situation in the same way.
"There is a good stability here. That must help," he said. "The foundations David has laid down from his side of it are easy to carry on from. There is a template there for us to follow. The job is to support the manager and the staff to maintain the success they have. I don't think that should change that much."
Woodward has been attending Premier League meetings on United's behalf in an attempt to get his head round the intricate world of football politics. And Ferguson believes the manner of the 40-year-old's promotion is another sign that the Glazer family remain wedded to the in-house philosophy that has proved so successful down the years.
"I have always worked well with David and he is going to be a loss," said Ferguson. "But United are great at promoting from within and we have done it again with Ed Woodward stepping up. Remember, David came as the finance director and ended up as chief executive.
"From the football side, Mike Phelan came as reserve coach and ended up as my assistant. Rene Meulensteen came as a development coach and is now my first-team coach. Brian McClair came as a youth coach and is now director of the academy. We see quality and potential in a lot of our staff. That happens throughout the club. There shouldn't be a big problem."