European absence to cost Man United 30 million pounds
LONDON (Reuters) - Missing out on European soccer over the coming year will cost Manchester United more than 30 million pounds, the club said on Thursday, while reassuring fans it still had the money to rejuvenate its squad after a poor showing last season.
There was no word from the club, owned by the American Glazer family, on the hotly discussed identity of a new manager after the departure of David Moyes last month following a failed first season in charge.
United, English champions a record 20 times, are expected to confirm Dutch national team coach Louis van Gaal as their new manager, according to media reports, after Moyes was ousted.
The appointment could be formalised after the Dutch play Ecuador in a warm-up match on Saturday ahead of the soccer World Cup, which starts next month in Brazil.
Speaking to financial analysts, Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward said only that the club would make an announcement in "due course" on the new manager and remained active in the transfer market.
That suggests that Woodward and Van Gaal have already discussed potential recruits to strengthen a team that finished only seventh in the 20-team Premier League in 2013-14.
"Our aim absolutely is to get back into the Champions League," said Woodward, stressing the need to ensure that the absence from the top European competition was a one-off. The top four finishers normally qualify for the lucrative contest.
Woodward added that United had generated record revenue and profit in the three months to the end of March, despite the problems on the pitch. "This puts us in a healthy financial position to continue to invest in the squad," he said.
United have already been linked with a multi-million pound move for 18-year old Southampton full-back Luke Shaw, whose form this year has just earned him a callup to the England national squad for the World Cup.
"We will be active in the transfer market. Deals are being done," said Woodward, without naming any names.
Revenue in the three months to March rose 26 percent to 115.5 million pounds and operating profit reached 40 million.
For the year as a whole, the club stuck to its forecast for revenue of between 420 and 430 million pounds and EBITDA (operating profit) of 128 to 133 million.
United shares, quoted on the New York Stock Exchange, added 0.8 percent to $16.75, having risen from $14 when they were floated in August 2012.
The financial effects of a rare failed season will be felt in 2014-15, when United will not play in Europe for the first time in more than two decades.
Moyes had been picked by his predecessor Alex Ferguson, who had become the most successful manager in British soccer in his 26 years in charge, but his performance fell short and the club faces heavy spending on new players in coming months to compete better next season.
"We estimate that the isolated impact on fiscal year 2015's EBITDA from not qualifying for European football will be in the mid 30 millions of pounds," Woodward said.
United got a bigger share of European revenue in the current year because they won the Premier League in 2012-13.
The European blow will be cushioned by a new shirt sponsorship deal that will involve players wearing the logo of General Motors' Chevrolet marque on their famous red shirts from the start of next season.
United said Moyes would get a pay off in the "single digit" millions of pounds after his departure less than a year into a six-year contract.
United are also facing a major decision on a new retail partner as their current contract with Nike expires next year. "We continue to have very good discussions with a number of parties," Woodward said of the talks.
United welcomed the application of new rules from European soccer's governing body UEFA to force clubs designed to rein in their losses, known as Financial Fair Play (FFP).
Their local rivals Manchester City, who have just won the Premier League, and French champions Paris St Germain, are reported to be facing fines and curbs on their Champions League squad sizes under the rules.
"Recent news has indicated that UEFA are taking a strong line on clubs that breach FFP rules," said Woodward. "We continue to support FFP," he added, saying the reform should rein in the costs of players transfers and wages.
(Editing by David Holmes)
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