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Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward hints at more expensive signings

Published 17/09/2015

Manchester United have been counting the cost of missing out on the Champions League last term
Manchester United have been counting the cost of missing out on the Champions League last term

Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward has raised the prospect of more expensive signings by the club next year by predicting bringing fewer players in - but not necessarily less spending.

Woodward, speaking on a conference call with United investors, said that he anticipated fewer players coming into the club - but could not guarantee a drop in the overall amount spent on transfer fees.

United spent more than £115million during the summer including £36million on teenage French striker Anthony Martial, but sold £59.7million record signing Angel di Maria to Paris St Germain for around £45million.

Asked by one investor if 2015 represented a peak in terms of capital investment in players, Woodward said: "Was 2015 a peak? I think it's impossible to answer that question. We have seen a large number of ins and outs in terms of the squad in the last couple of summer windows.

"We have previously guided on a more modest number in and out. It is a number-times-price calculation - the number can vary and obviously the price can vary quite materially based on who you are purchasing so it is difficult for us to guide on that."

United announced they expect to become the first English club to break the £0.5billion income barrier this season after revealing the full cost of the absence from the Champions League last season.

The club reported revenues down last season by 8.8 per cent to £395.2million. United's income fell by £38million from £433.2million - the loss of £50million in income from Europe being partially offset by an increase in commercial income.

United's adjusted profit was down to £3.1million from £28.7million, and gross debt increased to £411million from £341million a year ago - partly due to refinancing old bonds and partly due to exchange rate changes with the dollar. Net debt however was down to £255.2million from £275.4million.

As in previous years, the club has budgeted on Louis van Gaal's side reaching the Champions League quarter-finals.

Woodward added: "As we look to the new season, we are enthusiastic about our strong position, both on and off the pitch.

"In recent weeks we have further strengthened our squad with an exciting mix of experience and youth, qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, and seen an impressive launch of our partnership with adidas.

"Our record revenue and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) guidance for 2016 reflects the underlying strength of our business and our confidence in its continued growth."

United, owned by the United States-based Glazer family, also announced they will seek to raise another 400million US dollars (£257.5million) by selling new shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

The move was announced in a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission saying that the club will make 24 million Class A shares available. The Glazers have three years under the current prospectus to go ahead with the share sale.

The Glazer family who own Manchester United are set to make more than £15million in dividends from the club this season.

United announced today it will pay a dividend to shareholders for the first time since the shares were sold on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012, at a rate of 4.5 cents per share per quarter.

The five sons and one daughter of the late Malcolm Glazer own 80 per cent of the 180million shares. Avram, Joel, Kevin, Bryan and Edward Glazer, and their sister, Darcie Glazer Kassewitz and stand to make a total of £15.2million - £2.5million each annually.

United say the club's strong financial position and predicted income allow them to pay a dividend while still investing in players and competing at the highest level.

A spokesman said: "In addition, there are significant funds available for transfers and wages and the dividend won't impact the club's ability to buy top players."

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