By Neil Maidment
LONDON Feb 12 English soccer champions
Manchester United will ramp up spending on new players
to improve their ailing squad and boost the team's chances of
winning the trophies that have been key to their financial
United, slumped in 7th place in the Premier League in a
tough debut campaign for new manager David Moyes, on Wednesday
posted an 11.6 percent rise in second-quarter revenue showing
their on-pitch difficulties had not yet effected business.
The club said they would invest to ensure they could compete
for top honours and the TV and sponsorship windfalls that come
with them. United signed Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata for a club
record fee of 37.1 million pounds ($61 million) in January but
need reinforcements in defence and a commanding midfielder.
"We aren't afraid of moving in the market in a way that
perhaps we haven't seen in recent years ... Historically we've
had roughly three sales and three purchases each year and it's
possible that we will do more than that," Ed Woodward, Executive
Vice Chairman said on a conference call, adding everyone from
Moyes down had acknowledged their poor league position.
"Over the medium term we would expect annual net player
capex to track higher than our historical average as we invest
in our squad as needed in order to make sure we're competing at
the highest level," Woodward said.
He said that he could not give the likely range of spending,
but added that some players would be sold this summer and that
youth players would continue to be nurtured at the club.
The club, which last year won a record 20th Premier League
title in Alex Ferguson's last season as manager, are 16 points
off leaders Chelsea with more than half the season gone and are
in danger of missing out on a place in the lucrative UEFA
Champions League for the first time since 1995.
Asked what financial impact missing out on a Champions
League spot this season would have on the club, Woodward said
its global fan base and commercial pull would see them cope.
United's second quarter results provided a bright spot in
the team's gloomy season, with revenue for the last three months
of 2013 rising to 122.9 million pounds, in line with analyst
forecasts, thanks to rising TV and commercial deals.
Adjusted core earnings before charges such as interest and
tax was 1.6 percent ahead at 51 million pounds for the period,
the club said, adding it was on course to hit targets for the
fiscal year to end-June.
Broadcasting and commercial sales both rose almost 19
percent in the quarter, with the club activating six sponsorship
deals in the period including with Fuji TV and Banif Bank.
Despite the poor form, United are set for a big rise in
turnover as benefits roll in from improved Premier League TV
contracts and new sponsorship deals. The club is forecasting
revenue for the current season of between 420 million pounds and
430 million, up from 363 million last season.
Their finances could soon be further boosted by a new kit
supply deal. The club, owned by the American Glazer family, said
they were in talks with several sportswear companies, including
existing supplier Nike, about replacing their current
contract that expires next year.
Shares in United, which claim to be the world's best
supported soccer team with more than 650 million followers, were
down 0.6 percent on the New York Stock Exchange at $15.14 at