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United delighted with progress

Published 14/05/2015

Louis van Gaal looks certain to guide Manchester United into the Champions League
Louis van Gaal looks certain to guide Manchester United into the Champions League

Manchester United will further strengthen their squad and will be able to challenge for trophies on all fronts next season, the club's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has promised.

Woodward said the club owners were "delighted" with Louis van Gaal's first season in charge and that the club's financial future was also looking rosy.

Speaking to investors after announcing the club's third-quarterly earnings, Woodward also said contract negotiations would start with up to nine first-team squad players whose deals expire at the end of next season.

Woodward said: "The squad will be absolutely deep enough and ready to challenge on all fronts and all competitions next year. That will as ever involve some ins and outs which we will not guide on.

"We are delighted with the progress made under Louis as first-team manager. With two games remaining we are well-positioned to achieve a top-four finish in the Premier League and therefore return to European football next season.

"In regards to this summer's transfer activity we have already started implementing our plans and last week announced that Memphis Depay, viewed as one of the most exciting young players in Europe, will be joining the first team.

"We expect to be active again during the window, but it's too early to give guidance on transfers or wages at this point."

Woodward added: "As we look forward to next season, on the playing side we expect to be challenging for trophies in all competitions and on the commercial side we are excited by the numerous opportunities for further growth, including the first year of our 10-year partnership with adidas.

"We remain confident about the future of our business. Our commercial revenues were up year over year and we are raising EBITDA guidance for fiscal year 2015 from £90-£95 million to £103-£110 million."

EBITDA is related to operating profits and is the measure some companies use for their operating performance.

The club's EBITDA for the 2013/14 season was £130.9million so the effect from the estimated £50million drop in income from not playing in the Champions League looks as though it will be offset by increases in money from commercial deals and a six per cent fall in the club's wage bill.

The gross debt has risen 12 per cent to £395.4million, almost totally due to the weakening of the dollar against the pounds, and although there will be interest payments of around £30million that should leave plenty of money for further team strengthening to accompany the signing of 21-year-old Dutch international Depay from PSV Eindhoven.

United's total revenue for the nine months ending March 31 was £289.4million, down 14.1 per cent, with commercial revenue up 4.1 per cent to £151million for the nine months.

Broadcast income the three months before March 31 was £21.7million, down £13.9million or 39 per cent, mainly because United's matches were televised much less often - five times fewer than for the same period in 2014 - so the club missed out on facility fees.

The statement from the club said: "[The drop] is primarily due to five fewer FAPL live broadcast games and two fewer FAPL home games in the current quarter, and non-participation in the UEFA Champions League."

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