NYON: Manchester United’s Philip Townsend has been confirmed as new managing director for communications with European football federation UEFA in succession to former CNN sports anchor Pedro Pinto.

Townsend, 48, has led United’s profile-enhancing media operations since February 2004.

He said: “I have always had the highest regard for UEFA and its work in the development of the game across Europe. It is a great honour to have been asked to take on this role.

“It was a difficult decision to leave United after so many years working alongside so many good people in a club with such huge global significance in the game but this is a wonderful opportunity at a very important time for European football.”

Pinto had two lengthy stints with CNN, first in Atlanta from 1998 to 2003 and then in London where he was the ‘face’ of the channel’s sports operation between 2006 and 2013.

He then moved to Nyon to take up his communications post at the behest of then-president Michel Platini.

Pinto is expected to retain a consultancy role for current president Alexander Ceferin after returning home to Portugal to take up new projects of his own.