Manchester United insist their unilateral declaration of agents’ fees is “untenable” over the long term.
United have once again found themselves castigated for the massive sums paid to players’ representatives over the past year.
In confirming profits of £46m (€66.8m) for the 11 months to the end of June 2005, the Red Devils also revealed they had paid £1.5m (€2.2m) to Paul Stretford’s Proactive Group as part of the deal which saw Wayne Rooney move from Everton, and another £300,000 (€436,000) to Edwin van der Sar’s advisor following the Dutch goalkeeper’s summer arrival from Fulham.
A total of £2.2m (€3.2m) was paid out to agents, a mind-boggling sum when most of the players involved were actively seeking a move to Old Trafford anyway.
But United chief executive David Gill believes the sums only look so great because there are no comparisons.
And he has issued a veiled threat to the Premier League that unless more clubs follow suit, his own may stop being so transparent.
“This information (about agents’ fees) will undoubtedly add to the debate into the transparency of the role of agents and the level of their fees,” Gill said in a formal statement released this morning.
“While the club feels this disclosure is the right course of action, we do not believe it is helpful that Manchester United remains the only FA Premier League club to publish such figures.
“We will keep this issue under review but the failure of others to publish comparable statistics will once again leave Manchester United to be criticised over this matter on behalf of the whole game – an untenable position in the long term.”
Gill remains bullish about United’s prospects despite a 20% dip in profits, which he puts mainly down to a loss in media revenues from the Premier League and Champions League.
The prospect of a significant increase over the next 12 months has been hit by United’s exit from the Champions League group phase.
However, from next season onwards, the Red Devils will benefit from an increase in Old Trafford’s capacity to 76,000 and additional income from non-match day corporate facilities.
The sums should enable turnover to rise far beyond the £200m (€290.5m) mark United currently claim is being raised in revenue. That figure does include the sale of club merchandise, not all of which ends up in United’s coffers due to the details behind the long-term sponsorship with Nike.
Gill is also confident about the prospects of securing a large increase in United’s shirt sponsorship deal, following Vodafone’s decision to terminate their £9m (€13m)-a-year contract at the end of this season.
Although Gill confirmed the £12m (€17.4m) arrivals of Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic represent United’s last activity during the transfer window, he said money will be made available to Alex Ferguson in the summer to reinforce his midfield.
There were many who claimed Ferguson’s days at Old Trafford were numbered following United’s disastrous early exit from the Champions League and failure to keep pace with Chelsea in the Premiership.
However, Gill has refuted that theory.
“Sir Alex has the full support of everyone at the club and will be here for many years to come,” said Gill.
“He has the energy, enthusiasm and appetite to ensure we get back up there challenging for the league.”