June 27 (Reuters) - Manchester United have likely taken a bigger financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic than their rivals and it is unclear what funds will be available to sign players in the next transfer window, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said.
United withdrew their annual financial targets in May after losing about 23 million pounds ($28 million) in quarterly revenue due to the season being temporarily suspended because of the coronavirus crisis.
The Premier League restarted this month but fans have been barred from attending games, and Solskjaer said United, who also have 429 million pounds in debt, would adopt a cautious approach to spending.
“We’ll have to take a big look at things ourselves to see how hard we’ve been hit,” Solskjaer told reporters ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup quarter-final match at Norwich City.
“It’s not for me to say we are going to have X amount because I don’t really know. We are a financially strong club, but we are also probably being hit more than anybody else.”
United are fifth in the Premier League, five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, with seven games left to play.
With second-placed Manchester City facing a European ban for breaching UEFA financial rules, fifth place should guarantee qualification for the lucrative Champions League, unless City win an appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
City will discover the fate of their appeal next month, while United could also qualify for Europe’s elite club competition by winning the Europa League this season.
“Let’s see how quickly we can get our fans back into the stadium,” Solskjaer added.
“There’s still a lot of uncertainty and these three or four months, every businessman in the world, every footballer in the world, I think everyone is still unsure what the effect will be.”
$1 = 0.8106 pounds Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore