Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward insists the club will continue to invest in its squad in order to challenge for titles but made no mention of manager Louis van Gaal in his latest quarterly conference call.
United released financial results for the 2016 fiscal third quarter and nine months ending March 31 on Friday, with total revenue up 31.6 per cent to £380.8million on account of significant increases in commercial, broadcasting and matchday income.
Woodward spoke in glowing terms of United’s record of promoting young talent into the first-team this season and the club’s ambition of winning a record-equalling 12th FA Cup against Crystal Palace next weekend, without making a specific mention of Van Gaal or the prospects of a top-four finish.
United surrendered the initiative to neighbours Manchester City in the race for Champions League qualification spot as they went down to a 3-2 defeat at West Ham on Tuesday, heightening speculation over the Dutchman’s future as former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho was once again linked to his post.
Manuel Pellegrini’s team realistically only require a draw at Swansea City in Sunday’s final match to finish above Van Gaal’s men due to a vastly superior goal difference.
Woodward reported broadcasting revenue, which was up by 38.6 per cent to £92.7m in the latest figures, would be hit by around £30m if United participated in the Europa League as opposed to the Champions League.
A clause in United’s kit deal with Adidas, meaning a 30 per cent reduction in payments from the German sports giant, will only kick in if they miss out on reaching the group stages of the Champions League for two consecutive seasons – meaning the earliest it can now come into play is the 2017-18 campaign
“We will always invest in the squad so we are challenging for titles,” said Woodward, who credited the Old Trafford youth system for helping with the effort of “re-tooling” the first-team squad over recent years.
“This Premier League season has demonstrated once again why this is the most compelling sporting completion in the world,” he said.
“I’m delighted by the development of our young players. Marcus Rashford made an immediate impact with goals on his debuts in the Europa League and then the Premier League.
“Rashford, Cameron Borthwick-Jackson and Jesse Lingard are now first-team regulars and Manchester-born.
“We have won three of the last four Under-21 Premier League titles, which is an impressive achievement given the number of players who have moved up to the first team.
“We are continuing a long Manchester United tradition of bringing through our own talent.”
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