The highest wage bill in Premier League history means Manchester United made a huge loss last season

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Manchester United have revealed a record Premier League wage bill of £384m for last season despite failing to qualify for the Champions League.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford and the signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane have contributed to Manchester City’s highest annual salary listed in the club’s financial accounts of more than £350m from 2021.

Ronaldo wanted to leave the club in the summer and is on a 25% cut along with the rest of the squad after they failed to finish in the top four and qualify for Europe’s elite competition.

United are counting the cost of last season’s failures, paying £24.7m after sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and then briefly bringing in Ralf Rangnick as a temporary member. Rangnick’s two-year involvement as a consultant at United was interrupted when he became coach of the Austrian national team.

“It is clear that our performance on the pitch, finishing sixth in the Premier League last season, fell short of our goals and expectations,” said Richard Arnold, United’s chief executive.

“In response, we have made significant and necessary changes, including new men’s first team leadership under Erik ten Hag and strengthening the playing squad in the summer transfer window.”

After years of making a profit, United posted a net loss for the second year in a row, this time losing £115.5m. Premier League FFP rules allow losses of £105m over a three-year period but are not expected to come under scrutiny as losses from Covid and investment in other areas of the club are taken into account.

Arnold told investors during the conference call that the club follows the financial fair play rules of the domestic league and UEFA. “When you look at our activity in this space historically, we have to strike a balance between investing in the talent needed to achieve the level expected of Manchester United and short-term and long-term sustainability. We believe FFP helps with both of these goals.”

United also revealed that they are entering the NFT (non-fungible token) market for fans to purchase assets in the digital world. Products have no tangible form, but can be bought and sold as property.

“We are exploring a range of blockchain-enabled fan offerings, including digital collectibles among other digital products,” said Phil Lynch, United’s executive director of digital products and experiences.

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