United set for summer spending splurge

Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has cleared the decks for a summer transfer splurge aimed at ensuring the Red Devils do not get lost in the wilderness.

Woodward was speaking to investors following the announcement of United’s second-quarter results which, as expected, showed significant rises in commercial and broadcasting revenue.

While United’s financial power has been well established for many years, what has created significant interest at present is the likelihood of them not qualifying for next season’s Champions League under manager David Moyes and the impact that would have.

Woodward played down the consequences of a period outside Europe’s elite, citing the present example of Liverpool.

“Some of our competitors have not won the league for a long time and they still sell a lot of shirts globally; one of them is just down the road from us.

“That is not something I am sitting here concerned about.”

What Woodward is clearly anxious to avoid is presiding over the demise of a club that has won 13 of 21 titles since the Premier League was formed, that last season finished top by 11 points and as recently as 2011 reached its third Champions League final in four seasons.

And that is going to cost money. Lots of it.

“Our starting-point long-term strategy is to focus on building a competitive squad that challenges for trophies.

“The financial strength we have demonstrates we have the ability to do that.

“We are not in the position we want to be in. We are working hard to change that. But I am focused on the long-term strategy of making sure we are building a competitive squad that challenges for trophies.”

The news will be greeted with relief by United fans, who within the list of figures released yesterday, discovered the overall cost of the controversial takeover by the Glazer family in 2005 has now reached an eye-popping £686million.

It gives credence to Roy Keane’s accusation of a club “cutting corners” in the last few years.

As a stand-alone business, United continue to go from strength to strength. Commercial income alone stands at £42.3million up 18.8% for the quarter to December 31 and 30% for the financial year so far.

Broadcasting revenue for the period was £46.9million, an increase of 18.7 per cent, due to a rise in revenue from the domestic and international Premier League rights agreements, and increases in the share of the Champions League fixed pool distributions.

Staff costs were £51.6million, an increase of 16.7 per cent, primarily due to the impact of player acquisitions and renegotiated player contracts.

Gross debt has been reduced by 2.7 per cent to £356.6milllion.

A reduction in profit by almost 50 per cent has been put down to a £25million ’swing’ in tax credits.


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