MANCHESTER United’s next manager could face immediate restrictions on his transfer plans as the club’s failure to qualify for the Champions League threatens to restrict their ability to increase the wage bill.
New Premier League financial fair play (FFP) rules state that clubs may only increase their salary costs by £4m per season, plus an extra amount based on revenue increases in other areas. But United’s absence from European club football’s top table next term is set to hit income by at least £40m, meaning they will need a huge uplift from commercial earnings to compensate and boost the £4m figure.
Overspending on wages would leave United at risk of a transfer ban or even points deductions in 2016. United are expected to hand the successor to David Moyes a huge transfer budget this summer – and still can – while a handful of ageing high-earners are set to leave, but the recruitment will have to meet top-flight salary rules, which came in this year.
United’s wage bill last season was £181m, compared to Manchester City’s £233m, and is estimated by analyst Ed Thompson to have risen to around £209m this term. After the £4m permitted annual increase, that requires another £24m to be fuelled by revenue increases, which cannot include central distributions from the Premier League for prize money or broadcast rights. Thompson, who has analysed United’s accounts extensively and blogs at www.financialfairplay.co.uk, believes that increase is likely to have been comfortably covered by a £42m uplift in income.
But it appears United could struggle to produce similar gains next season without Champions League cash. The Old Trafford club is in negotiations with manufacturers over a kit deal to replace their existing agreement with Nike, which could be worth £60m a year – a £37m annual increase – but it would not take effect until 2015, meaning next season’s finances would still have to be carefully managed.
The League Managers Association yesterday called United’s handling of Moyes’s sacking “unprofessional”, while the Scot reiterated his pride in holding the position in his first public statement since his dismissal, which was notable for its absence of reference to United’s players.
Former midfielder Paul Scholes yesterday returned to the club to join the coaching staff of interim manager Ryan Giggs while United scour the market for a long-term appointment.