United braced for income cut
Manchester United are bracing themselves for a massive dip in media revenues following their exit from the Champions League.
While United were able to confirm growth in all areas when they announced second-quarter results today, they also know the effect of being dumped into the Europa League is still to be felt.
It is estimated the Red Devils will lose approximately £3 million per round in prize-money alone by being in UEFA's secondary competition, and although the Europa League does include an extra round, United realise games will not prove as attractive to fans.
However, while they acknowledge revenues will dip, United insist that will have no impact on manager Sir Alex Ferguson's ability to compete in the transfer market, no matter what their critics say.
Ferguson has consistently argued he will not pay over the odds for players and refused to splash out the huge amount of money it would have cost to take Wesley Sneijder to Old Trafford from Inter Milan in the summer after previously missing out on alternative targets Luka Modric and Samir Nasri.
"Sir Alex Ferguson didn't want to buy anyone," a club spokesman insisted.
This stance cuts little ice with critics of the Glazer ownership at United though.
They have noted a further buyback of the £500million bond issue, meaning the debt has now been reduced by £92.8 million.
While it could be argued this is a positive move, fans are aghast profits from the club are going directly towards the debt incurred by the Glazers to complete their controversial takeover in 2005.
They claim that money should have been reinvested in Ferguson's squad, which is currently second in the Premier League, two points adrift of Manchester City.
Duncan Drasdo, chief executive of the Manchester United Supporters' Trust, said: "Manchester United revenues continue to grow strongly although costs are increasing just as quickly so pretty much negating that growth.
"However the key figures of interest to supporters show the Glazers have now spent every penny of the money received from the sale of (Cristiano) Ronaldo, and more.
"That's now £92.8 million spent on buying back their own bond debt that they loaded onto our club. So statements at the time that all of the Ronaldo money would be made available for reinvestment were clearly just spin.
"Since the sale of Ronaldo (30th June 2009) net transfers (not including Ronaldo) have totalled just £90million while they have taken £225 million out of the club to cover their debt payments and interest.
"What could the club have done with that extra £225 million? Cheaper tickets for loyal fans, investing massively in the squad and stadium, developing and retaining the best youth players, competing on an equal basis with the very best teams in Europe.
"This is the true cost to Manchester United of the Glazers ownership."
United chief executive David Gill made his feelings about those opposed to the Glazer ownership clear during pre-season, when he labelled them "anti-people". And there is little sign of the club's general popularity waning.
For the first time since they were completed in May 2006, United have sold all the hospitality boxes within the four new quadrants in the stadium.
One of the last went to lottery winner Gareth Bull, who was able to fulfil a lifetime's ambition when he scooped his £40 million windfall with wife Catherine in January.
Although overall revenue rose by almost 12% to £175million, wages also increased by nearly 15% to £76.5million.
This is being blamed on the number of new contracts that have been signed already this season, including deals for Javier Hernandez, Antonio Valencia and Park Ji-sung.
Paul Scholes' contract is not included in the figures as he came out of retirement at the beginning of January, after the December 31 accounting period.
The planned floatation in Singapore remains on hold until market conditions improve.
However, after two lucrative tours to the United States, it is thought United will head to the Far East this summer, although whether their England Euro 2012 stars will be involved depends on the dates, which are yet to be announced.