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Man Utd finances: 5 key points as Ed Woodward discusses transfers, fans and Jose Mourinho

Ed Woodward’s conference call to Manchester United investors was always likely to contain some difficult sums for fans to swallow, but the club’s executive vice-chairman was refusing to dwell on the negatives.

With the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis on football becoming clearer with each passing match in front of no spectators, Woodward addresses the hope that fans could return to Old Trafford soon, as well as the recent ‘Project Big Picture’ and European Premier League ideas that the club have been tied to.

Jose Mourinho even got a mention too, as Woodward assessed the current state of a club he hopes will soon return to the very summit of the English game.

Here are the key talking points from his conference call.

Woodward addressed United’s investors via a conference call
(Image: .)
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1. The big picture

First, the brass tax.

United’s revenue has shrunk by almost 20 per cent in the year to June as the impact of coronavirus takes its toll, with the numbers the lowest they have ever been since the 2014/15 season.

The club’s total revenue for 2019/20 is £509million, a stark contrast to their record £627million in 2018/19, with broadcast revenues also dropping some 41.9 per cent.

Net debt has doubled to £474.1million, with the loss of matchday revenue and no Champions League money last season two of the key reasons why.

United have also said that they will not put out revenue guidance for 2020/21 due to the « ongoing uncertainty » of the pandemic – something of an unprecedented move.

2. The other big picture

Liverpool and Manchester United were said to support ‘Project Big Picture’
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United’s apparent support for moves such as ‘Project Big Picture’ and the newly proposed European Premier League have been hot topics of late, and Woodward didn’t shy away from them.

He insisted that United are determined to help maintain the success of the Premier League, while also helping sustain the lower divisions too.

« There will always be intense debate around any changes to the structure of football, just as there was before the formation of the Premier League 28 years ago, » he said.

« Now, at this critical juncture for the game, we must ensure that the huge success of the Premier League is reinforced, while ensuring that the wider football pyramid continues to thrive in a rapidly changing media environment.

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Rick Parry came under fire for supporting United
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« Achieving this will require strategic vision and leadership. We are pleased that the Premier League has committed to work together on a plan for the future structures and financing of English football. 

« Now it must deliver on that promise, and we are committed to playing a leading role in pushing that process towards a successful outcome. »

On the European Premier League, he added: « I saw reports. I don’t know where it came from. »

3. Getting fans back into Old Trafford

Despite their status as one of European football’s superpowers, getting people through the door at Old Trafford remains vital for United’s success, according to Woodward.

« Another crucial issue for the whole of football is the reopening of stadiums to spectators as soon as the Government allows, » he said.

« While the situation in Greater Manchester and the UK as a whole continues to evolve, our plans for this are well advanced and we are confident of ours and the whole league’s ability to welcome them back in a safe, bio-secure environment.

Fans have been absent from Old Trafford since matches resumed in June
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« Crowds have been permitted to return to varying degrees in over 20 European countries, albeit with significant capacity restrictions to allow for social distancing, and we urge the UK government to follow these positive examples as soon as it is safe to do so. 

« While we recognize that public health must always be the priority, what is needed is consistency of approach. 

« If people are allowed to sit in a plane for hours, or in the cinema, or even watch football in a cinema why not outside in a stadium environment which is professionally managed and controlled? 

« If indoor concerts are allowed, why should outdoor, socially-distanced football fans be treated differently? Fans are the bedrock of this game and some of the inconsistencies out there are frustrating for them and for the clubs. »

4. The cost of sacking Jose Mourinho

Mourinho recently returned to Old Trafford as Tottenham manager
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Jose Mourinho’s dismissal as United boss in December 2018 was also mentioned in the new accounts as last year’s were referenced, with the Portuguese leaving the club with a year-and-a-half of his contract left to run.

And the now-Tottenham boss wasn’t cheap to get rid of.

The report stated: « Exceptional costs for the prior year were £19.6 million, relating to compensation to the former manager and certain members of the coaching staff for loss of office. »

Could that extra money have secured Jadon Sancho?

5. Getting back on their perch

But what do you United fans really care about? Success.

Rivals Liverpool winning the top-flight league title for the first time in 30 years hasn’t exactly improved the mood of supporters desperate for a return to the very top, and Woodward insists that the club remain on the right path back towards the summit of the game.

United haven’t won the league since Sir Alex Ferguson’s last season in 2013, or any trophy since Mourinho picked up the Europa League in 2017, but Woodward remains defiant.

« On the field, we will never be satisfied at Manchester United unless we are winning trophies, » said Woodward.

United haven’t won the Premier League since Sir Aex Ferguson left
(Image: PA)

« But our third-place finish in the Premier League and strong cup runs last season showed that, while there is more hard work ahead and the path is not always smooth, we are making progress.

« We have a clear strategy under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to build a successful, committed team, with a core of home-grown talent blended with high-quality recruits, that plays fast flowing, attacking football.

« To that end, we are pleased with our recent additions to the First Team squad of Donny van de Beek and Alex Telles, two players we had been tracking as part of our recruitment process for a long period, and Edinson Cavani, a top striker who adds a new option to our forward line.

« We also welcome Facundo Pellistri and Amad Diallo, who will join in January, two exciting young prospects who have also been scouted extensively.

« Added to the arrival of Bruno Fernandes earlier this year, these recruits underscore our continued commitment to strengthening the squad and take our net investment in new players since summer 2019 to over €200m – more, I believe, than any other major European club over that time period. »

How far will United go in the Champions League?  Have your say in the comments below

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