Manchester United is desperate for a returns to the Champions League following their £150million spending spree and has budgeted for a third-place finish this season, according to executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
In a conference call to investors after revealing the club’s full-year results on Wednesday, Mr Woodward was bullish on prospects having appointed Louis van Gaal and sanctioning the massive outlay.
After a seventh-place finish last season, and missing out on at least £35m in revenue from the Champions League, United clearly needed to act.
While the results for the year to June 2014 were strong – with turnover hitting a record £433.2m – the results for 2015 will be weaker. The club estimates revenues will fall to somewhere between £385m and £395m – mostly as a result of the loss Champions League television revenue and prize money.
Mr Woodward said for the club to limit the damage the team must finish third or higher explaining: “Our [forecast] budgets assume a third-placed finish, as is ordinarily the case.”
Having presided over an era of commercial success highlighted by the 10-year deal worth at least £75m a season with adidas, Mr Woodward is confident that United would continue to attract sponsors and regional partners.
“Commercially we continue to go from strength to strength. The record deal with adidas underpinned our attempts to compete for the next decade. We remain excited about our business and our growth potential,” he continued.
Mr Woodward said he was particularly excited about growth prospects in the US market: “We seem to be in the midst of a step-change at the moment with football or soccer breaking into the mainstream sporting consciousness. Clearly that’s been aided by the recent World Cup in Brazil and performance of the national team there and football-themed video games.
“We played five matches there to a cumulative audience of more than 360,000. The US attendance record which we set in Michigan of 109,000 is higher than any Super Bowl or World Series in history, and was a record that had stood for 30 years.”