Manchester United face a financial hit the size of Paul Pogba’s world record £89m transfer fee if they fail to finish in the Premier League’s top four again this season, club chiefs have revealed.
United’s vast kit deal with Adidas contains a penalty clause that reduces their payment by 30 per cent if they fail to qualify for the Champions League in consecutive years.
That equates to more than £20m and, when added to the shortfalls they would suffer in prize money and match-day revenue, takes the cost of being shut out of club football’s elite competition for another term to close to £90m.
The three-time kings of Europe are absent from the Champions League this season after they missed out on qualification for the second time in three years by finishing fifth domestically.
United currently lie sixth in the Premier League, despite lavishing vast sums on hiring manager Jose Mourinho and signing Pogba, £30m Eric Bailly, £26m Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the summer.
“There is a clause in the Adidas contract that if we are missing from the Champions League for two years in a row, there is a 30 per cent reduction of the following year’s receipt,” said chief financial officer Cliff Batty.
“So if we did miss out again, that would kick in and we would see 30 per cent of the future annual payment reduced. For example, if we received £70m, 30 per cent of that would be £21m, that we would not receive.”
Any penalties are spread out across the duration of the contract with Adidas, which has eight more years to run, although the club could be hit again if they repeatedly fail to reach the Champions League.
United’s absence from the competition has already his this season’s financial results, with Q1 revenue down £3.4m to £120.2m, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said.
Playing in the Champions League is worth around £50m a season in prize money to English clubs who at least reach the last 16, plus more than £10m in match-day takings, but successful teams can bring in far more.
United still expect to achieve record revenues of between £530m and £540m this year, which could see them overtake Real Madrid and Barcelona and become the world’s richest club.
Man Utd v Arsenal team news
The Adidas clause nonetheless underlines the importance of Saturday’s Premier League showdown with Arsenal, who are fourth.
United are set to be without the suspended Ibrahimovic, while the Gunners are missing right-back Hector Bellerin and midfielder Santi Cazorla, while forward Alexis Sanchez faces a late fitness test.
Alexis scored twice for Chile against Uruguay on Tuesday night despite carrying a hamstring problem and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he would assess his top scorer on Friday.