Manchester United ‘ahead of schedule’ in transfer recruitment; Club debt has ballooned to more than half a billion dollars

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Manchester United are “advanced” in rebuilding their playing squad after the club reported a net loss of £115.5m for the 2021-22 season.

Figures released on Thursday for the final quarter of their financial year showed a loss of £23m more than in the previous 12 months, although revenue rose 18% to £583m. The club’s net debt rose to £514.9 million ($581 million) from £419.5 million, United said, due to the weaker position of the British pound against the US dollar. United paid £33.6m in dividends to shareholders.

The club’s accounts for 2021-22 revealed they have the biggest wage bill in Premier League history in the summer of 2021, sending Cristiano Ronaldo, Raphael Varane and Jaden Sancho’s salary cap to £384.2m. £355 million was spent by Manchester City.

The investment in players has not been reflected on the pitch, with United finishing sixth in the Premier League and Europa League qualifiers (the absence of Champions League football predicts a relatively stable income for the Red Devils for 2022-23). Speaking on a conference call with investors, chief executive Richard Arnold said: “Our on-pitch performance fell short of our objectives and expectations in finishing sixth in the Premier League last season. In response, we have made important and necessary changes. The men’s first team under Eric den Haag New leadership and strengthening the playing squad during the summer transfer window.”

United spent more than £200m on that summer’s move — their most ever in a single window — with Brazilian midfielder Andreas Pereira the only sale to recoup a significant fee over the likes of Anthony, Casemiro and Lisandro Martinez. It’s important to note that big earners like Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani left the wage bill when they left on free transfers; Director of football John Murdoch said the club did not want to be busy in the coming windows.

“Overall, we are ahead of schedule in our recruitment plans for early summer, and we don’t expect the same level of activity in future windows,” he said. “As always, our planning is focused on the summer window.”

Murduff added: “We will continue to support Eric in ensuring he has players of the right quality and roles to achieve success, while ensuring the investment is consistent with our commitment to financial sustainability.”

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