Manchester United are ahead of schedule in their mission to rebuild their playing squad and expect less activity in future summer windows after the club posted a £115.5m net loss for the 2021-22 season.
Data released on Thursday for the final quarter of their financial year showed losses were £23m higher than the previous 12 months, despite revenue rising 18% to £583m following a full return of fans to the English football stadiums. The club’s net debt rose from £419.5m to £514.9m ($581m), which United said was due to the British pound’s weak position against the US dollar. United also paid shareholders a record £33.6 million in dividends.
The club’s 2021–22 accounts showed they had the largest payroll in Premier League history as the summer of 2021 recruitment of Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Varane and Jadon Sancho lifted their salary levels to £384.2m, beating previous record. Manchester City spent £355m.
This investment in players has not been reflected on the pitch, with United slipping to sixth in the Premier League and Europa League qualification (the lack of Champions League football means the Red Devils are forecasting relatively static revenue for 2022-23). Speaking on a conference call with investors, Chief Executive Richard Arnold said: “Obviously our performance on the pitch, finishing sixth in the Premier League last season, fell short of our goals and expectations. In response, we have made important and necessary changes, including a new management of the men’s first team under Erik ten Hag and a stronger squad during the summer transfer window.”
United spent more than £200m that summer – more than they ever received in a single window – on the likes of Anthony, Casemiro and Lisandro Martínez, while Brazilian midfielder Andreas Pereira was the only one to recoup a significant amount. It should be noted that big players such as Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Edinson Cavani have indeed stepped out of the payroll to go on free transfers; Football director John Murtow said the club did not intend to be so busy in the coming windows.
“Overall, we are ahead of schedule in our hiring plans as envisaged at the beginning of the summer, and we do not expect the same level of activity in future windows,” he said. “As always, our planning is focused on the summer window.”
Murtaugh added: “We will continue to support Eric to ensure that he has players with the right quality and character to succeed, and that the investment is in line with our commitment to financial sustainability.”