Gary Neville believes independent panels should investigate serious allegations made against footballers after criticising Manchester United’s “pretty horrible” handling of the Mason Greenwood case.

United announced on Monday that Greenwood will leave the club by mutual agreement, with the forward suspended since January 2022 over allegations relating to a young woman after images and videos were posted online.

Charges against the 21-year-old England international including attempted rape and assault were discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service in February this year, leading to United conducting an internal investigation into the matter.

While Neville feels they have belatedly reached the right result, the former United captain is appalled at how his former employers have dealt with the situation and called for instances of this magnitude to be taken out of a club’s hands in future.

He said on Sky Sports: “They’ve finally got there. It was clear from day one, for me and anybody who saw the evidence that was initially released, that he wouldn’t play for Manchester United again.

“I would say that the process in getting there has been pretty horrible. When you have significant and difficult situations like this, it requires an authoritative leadership, that comes the very top and Manchester United don’t have that.

Gary Neville

Gary Neville has called for independent panels to investigate ‘issues like violence against women’ involving footballers. Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

“On an issue like domestic abuse and violence against women, there needs to be independence. It shouldn’t be that Manchester United are the judge and jury on such a significant issue, not just for themselves but also for the game. People talk about the reputation [hit] to Manchester United but it’s the Premier League here as well.

“My view is on issues of this importance and severity is they should be dealt with independently by a panel because it’s been clear that Manchester United have not had the skill and the ability to deal with this situation properly. It’s been well above their grade of experience and ability.”

It was reported last week that chief executive Richard Arnold told the club’s executive leadership in early August that United were planning to bring Greenwood back. That story and further information led increased pressure on the club, with Arnold publishing a public letter to supporters upon the conclusion of their in-house investigation.

The former England midfielder Karen Carney said on Sky Sports: “I empathise with anyone that’s been through or has been triggered by the conversations that we’ve been having. Personally I feel really uneasy with the situation. I think Manchester United, as an institution and a football club and what it stands for, have handled this really, really poorly.”

The former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher added: “You almost think of what decision Manchester United may have come to if these stories hadn’t been leaked and then you get the force of public opinion, that would be a worry. Ultimately, they’ve got to the right decision.”