Manchester United’s income dropped by almost 10% in the first quarter of this financial year due to the club’s absence from the Champions League.

Revenue for the three months ending September 30 was £88.7m (€111m), down £9.8m (€12.3m) compared to £98.5m (€123m) for the same period a year ago, a 9.9% drop.

The fall in income, shown in accounts published today, could have been even greater but the cost of United’s absence from European football has been partially compensated for by an increase in sponsorship money and a lower wage bill.

United's spending on employee benefits for the quarter fell by £3.5m, or 6.6%, to £49.4m, ``primarily due to lower player wages'', said the club in a statement.

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward confirmed the fall in revenue was mainly due to the absence from Europe.

He said: “While we recognise that the 2014/15 fiscal year financial results will reflect our absence from the Champions League, we signed the largest kit sponsorship deal in the history of sport in the first quarter and, with that concluded, we are excited to focus our efforts on the meaningful growth opportunities in sponsorship, digital media and retail and merchandising.”

The overall drop in wages is due to a combination of United not having to pay out bonuses for playing in the Champions League, as well as an exodus of highly-paid players from the wage bill including Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra, Ryan Giggs, Danny Welbeck, Bebe, Javier Hernandez, Tom Cleverley and Shinji Kagawa.

Even though new manager Louis van Gaal has made a number of high-profile signings, including Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao, he has still kept the wage bill lower than the squad under predecessor David Moyes.

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