ALEX FERGUSON could splash the cash next month as he attempts to stiffen Manchester United’s bid for a fourth successive Barclays Premier League title.
That is the view of sports finance expert Simon Chadwick, who believes the time could be right for Ferguson to reinvest some of the proceeds of Cristiano Ronaldo’s £80 million (€89 million) summer sale to Real Madrid after keeping his powder dry in the immediate aftermath of the Portugal international’s departure.
United are neck and neck with Chelsea in the battle for top spot as the race rounded the corner over Christmas with Arsenal hot on their heels, and Chadwick, professor of sport business at Coventry University, has tipped them to be one of the few significant spenders when the winter transfer window opens.
“What is particularly interesting with Manchester United is Ferguson did not go on a spending spree with the Ronaldo cash,” he said.
“In the summer, Ferguson played a canny game. He sold a player he had bought for £12.24m for £80m, so clearly in terms of the liquidity he realised, he conceivably does have money to spend.
“But what a deal like that does is inject inflation into the transfer market, so Ferguson withdrew from the market and made statements that he didn’t need to buy and tried to dampen down the market.
“It is difficult to do that during a window, but six months on and four months since the market shut, it may be sufficiently dampened now for Ferguson to come back in, so United are worth keeping an eye on.
“They probably do have some money to spend and Ferguson possibly does perceive that the market is much calmer than when they sold Ronaldo.”
The Old Trafford club, of course, has sizeable debts to be serviced, but injury problems have severely limited Ferguson’s options in recent weeks.
Chelsea boss Carlo Ancelotti insisted he will not embark on a spending spree despite losing Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Jon Obi Mikel and Salomon Kalou to the African Nations Cup, to the point where he promised to run around the club’s training ground naked if he does.
However, Chadwick would not be surprised if Liverpool and Manchester City make moves as they attempt to muscle their way into the top four.
He said: “If Liverpool do not qualify for the Champions League next season, they are on a little bit of a slippery slope and it starts to impinge upon their business model. They have to qualify for the Champions League next season and as a consequence they have to spend some money.
“Manchester City are the wild card in this. They could spend millions, or they could spend nothing.”
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