Woodward: Success on pitch is priority | Man Utd wage bill rises

Manchester United’s outgoing executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward insists the “top priority is success on the pitch” as the club’s latest financial results are announced on the back of a poor run of results.

The figures come at a time when the club have lacked sparkle on the field, slipping to sixth in the Premier League after resounding losses to rivals Liverpool and Manchester City in recent weeks.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under increasing pressure to turn the on-field situation around, with the club currently nine points behind leaders Chelsea.

Woodward, who is due to be leaving his role at the end of the year, said: “While these financial results today demonstrate our resilience through the pandemic, our top priority is success on the pitch.

“The manager, players and everyone at the club are determined to achieve that objective.”

How summer of spending impacted wage bill

Manchester United's Cristiano Ronaldo during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester, England, Saturday, Nov. 6, 2021. Manchester City won 2-0. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

Cristiano Ronaldo was one of three big summer signings for Manchester United

United’s wage bill rose by 23 per cent during the period in which they signed Cristiano Ronaldo.

Figures for the first quarter of the 2021-22 financial year show a rise of £16.6m in “employee benefit expenses” compared to the corresponding period of the previous year.

The total amount spent on salaries during the quarter ended September 30, when the club re-signed Ronaldo and also brought in Raphael Varane and Jadon Sancho, was £88.5m.

Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane signed for United this summer

Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane signed for United this summer

This rise was offset by £17.4m brought in through player sales, principally Dan James’ move to Leeds, although the club did also earn a sell-on fee from Romelu Lukaku’s transfer from Inter Milan to Chelsea.

Revenue on the rise, but debt only slightly down

Overall, total revenue increased by 16.1 per cent to £126.5m, explained largely by the obvious increase in matchday income that came with the return of fans to games after coronavirus restrictions were lifted.

Matchday revenue was £18.8m compared to just £1.7m the previous year, when games were played behind closed doors.

This rise helped operating losses decrease from £27.1m to £10.2m compared to 2020-21.

Commercial revenues rose by 7.9 per cent to £64.4m. This will partially have been driven by the arrival of Ronaldo, although the Portuguese was only back at the club for the final month of the quarter.

The club’s net debt stood at £439.7m on September 30, down slightly from £440.6m the previous year.