June 21, 2021

Woodward: Man Utd will lead on league structure talks

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Manchester United are committed to playing a leading role in discussions around the structure of English football and will ensure that the wider football pyramid continues to thrive, says executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.

Liverpool and Manchester United have held discussions about a plot involving Europe’s biggest football clubs to join a new FIFA-backed tournament that would reshape the sport’s global landscape.

Sky News has learned that financiers are assembling a $6 billion (£4.6 billion) funding package to assist the creation of what could become known as the European Premier League.

Woodward, while discussing United’s loss of £70m in annual revenue, distanced the club from potential European Premier League proposals, but insisted any restructure of English football would also look after the wider pyramid.

In a call with the club’s investors, Woodward said: “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.

Old Trafford 2:46
Manchester United announce a loss of £70m in annual revenue due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic

“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.

“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.”

‘Net transfer spend higher than major Euro rivals’

Edinson Cavani pictured alongside fellow new signing Alex Telles
Image: Edinson Cavani and Alex Telles joined Man Utd on deadline day

Despite a summer transfer window which was dominated by the failure to sign Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, Woodward said that the club’s net spend on new players since the summer of 2019 was over €200m, which he believed “was more than any other major European club over that time period”.

However, he warned: “While our commitment to investment remains, it must be balanced with recognition of the extraordinarily challenging environment facing us and all football clubs at this time.”

He pointed out that for the first time in five years there had been no single transfer over the €100m mark, and that United’s European “peers” Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and PSG had a combined net spend of €9m.

Coronavirus costs Man Utd £70m in revenue

Manchester United have announced a loss of £70m in annual revenue due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

United’s revenue shrank by almost 20 per cent in the year ending June 2020 compared to the previous financial year as the impact of the pandemic affected the club on a number of fronts.

The 2019/20 total revenue represents the lowest figure United have posted since the 2014/15 financial year, when it was £395.2m.

Old Trafford
Image: The absence of fans at Old Trafford has seen the club’s matchday revenue fall 19 per cent

The club posted total revenue of £509m for 2019/20, compared to record revenues of £627.1m in 2018/19, representing a drop of 18.8 per cent.

Revenue had been projected to drop to between £560m and £580m this year because of the club not being involved in the Champions League, but they withdrew the forecast figure when they published their third-quarter results in May because of the impact of the pandemic.

Broadcasting revenues fell from £241.2m to £140.2m, a drop of 41.9 per cent, while their matchday revenue fell 19 per cent to £89.8m.

Net debt more than doubled from the previous year to £474.1m, which the club said reflected the impact of deferred sponsorship payments of £80m, the loss of advance matchday revenue for 2020/21 which would typically be in excess of £50m ahead of a Champions League season and an increase in player investment.

Exceptional costs for the prior year were £19.6m, which relate to the compensation paid to former manager Jose Mourinho and members of the coaching staff.

The club said they would not issue revenue guidance for the 2020-21 financial year due to the “ongoing uncertainty” caused by the pandemic.