Woodward backs Solskjaer after ‘turbulent season’ for Manchester United
United posted healthy financial results despite their on-field disappointments.
Ed Woodward reflected on a “turbulent season” for Manchester United, but the executive vice-chairman gave his unequivocal backing to manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United will be absent from the Champions League next season after a fraught 2018-19 Premier League campaign, in which they settled for an underwhelming sixth-place finish.
Woodward recognised the upheaval at Old Trafford, where Jose Mourinho was replaced by Solskjaer in December following modest results and months of alleged acrimony between the Portuguese and a number of his players.
Solskjaer’s instalment on an interim basis saw an initial improvement on the field, although shortly after the Norwegian’s appointment as permanent manager United’s season ran out of steam and they missed out on qualifying for Europe’s elite club competition.
However, Woodward revealed that the club’s strong financial position will enable them to “provide a solid foundation for the manager” ahead of what is expected to be a busy summer for the club.
Speaking on the day of United’s third-quarter financial results, Woodward said: “After a turbulent season, everyone at Manchester United is focused on building towards the success that this great club expects and our fans deserve.
“Preparations for the new season are under way and the underlying strength of our business will allow us to support the manager and his team as we look to the future.”
Woodward added in a conference call to talk about United’s earnings report: “The season that has just ended clearly didn’t end the way we hoped, finishing in sixth place and with a disruptive managerial change part way through.
“However, Ole and the squad battled back from mid-December to put us in contention to qualify for the Champions League next season, but ultimately we came up short.
“While the last few weeks were disappointing, we are delighted to have confirmed the appointment of Ole as our manager on a three-year contract, and to have recently confirmed the key members of the coaching team.
“Everyone at the club – the board, the manager, the squad and all the staff are resolute in our desire to get United back to the top of English football. We continually look to improve staff on and off the pitch to achieve this.
“The strength of our business means we have the financial resources to continue to provide a solid foundation for backing the manager and creating success on the pitch. This, as ever, remains our number-one goal.”
United posted revenues of £152.1million for the quarter, up 3.4 per cent from the corresponding period last year, meaning their total income to the end of March is £495.7m.
Around 17.5 per cent of that figure comes from match-day revenue (£87m), while increased broadcasting revenue (£200.3m) accounts for 40.4 per cent, with the remainder coming from commercial revenue (£208.4m).
Under ‘Employee benefit expenses’, United revealed they had paid £84.8m for the quarter, an increase of £9.7m, largely because of “investment in the first-team playing squad”.
Net debt, meanwhile, increased by £400,000 to £301.7m.