MANCHESTER UNITED chief executive David Gill is adamant they can still attract and keep the world’s top players despite refusing to spend as much on wages as Premier League rivals Chelsea and Manchester City.
United’s wage policy was thrust into the spotlight last week when Wayne Rooney, their prize asset, broke off contract negotiations and questioned the club’s ambition to maintain among Europe’s elite.
A tacit criticism of United’s low-key transfer policy over the past two years, it was underlined by Rooney’s flirtation with a move to City, who have spent relentlessly in their quest to gatecrash the top table.
The England striker ultimately chose to sign an extension after all, on wages believed to be around £200,000 a week, but only after receiving guarantees that investment would be made in the team.
United look unlikely to match City’s salary expenditure as Gill says they plan to maintain a policy of spending no more than half of their revenue on wages, but he insists they will still be able to compete.
Referring to City’s wage bill overtaking United’s, Gill said: “I’m not concerned by that
as ever since we have been a public company we have had a policy that wages should be 50 per cent or less of turnover.
“We believe we can do that and still retain and attract the stars we need on the pitch. We think that’s the sensible model. Clubs have other models – that’s their prerogative. Each to their own.”
Further debate about pay was provoked at the weekend when it emerged Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich would back a wage cap, as long as it applied throughout Europe.
The Russian’s team would appear to have the most to lose from such regulations, however, since they boast England’s biggest wage bill of £142.6m, according to the latest accounts.
Europe’s top teams will soon have to watch their spending more closely when governing body Uefa introduces its so-called financial fair play rules, designed to prevent clubs operating at hefty losses.
Those measures will take effect over three years, starting next season, and City chief executive Garry Cook admits even their days of unrestrained spending are in the past. “We will not be signing players to the same level of intensity in the next transfer windows,” he said. “Financial fair play is on our conscience, we talk about it at every board meeting and it’s part of our long-term plan.”
WAGE BILLS | OF THE PL TOP FOUR
Man City £133.3m
Man Utd £131.7m