Manchester United director Ed Woodward says that European football stakeholders are increasingly eager to crack down on clubs flouting the financial fair play (FFP) rules.
The Premier League giants’ financial might was underlined by full-year accounts revealing revenue of £581m and £80.8m in operating profits — both new records for a British club.
Yet United were outgunned in this summer’s transfer market by Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, whose lavish summer spending triggered complaints that European football governing body Uefa’s FFP rules were being flouted.
Woodward, United’s non executive vice chairman, sits on the Uefa strategy board where he says there is an increased appetite for a stricter approach.
“The rhetoric isn’t just coming from clubs, the rhetoric is coming from Uefa and the European Club Association (ECA),” Woodward told investors on a conference call.
“The willingness is there to look at it closely, to make sure the rules are being abided by and penalties are being looked at that. There’s nothing concrete that’s going on at the moment but there is a noise level that has increased since August.”
United’s healthy financials were primarily driven by a 38.2 per cent uplift in broadcasting revenue to £194.1m, with last season marking the first played under a Premier League TV deal worth around £8bn.
Yet it is the lure United’s globally-recognised brand holds for international sponsors that represents the largest chunk of the club’s income, with commercial bringing in £275.5m — 47 per cent of overall revenue.
The club, majority-owned by the Glazer family, paid £23.3m in dividends to shareholders — up from last year’s £20m.
After qualifying for the Champions League by winning last season’s Europa League — a route of entry that will see them miss out on half of the TV income issued to clubs — United expect to at least reach the competition’s quarter-finals this year.
Getting to the second knock-out stage of the competition is part of the club’s expectations for revenue between £575n and £585m next year.
“From a Champions League perspective it’s the same across all the clubs, a quarter-final assumption,” said Woodward.
Earlier in the call Woodward told investors: “We believe we have improved the balance and depth of our squad [in the summer transfer window] and are well placed to challenge for trophies.”