Manchester United are mired in a sluggish season that may see them finish without so much as a spot in European competition to show for it — but that doesn’t mean it’s been a bad year at the cash register.
In the final quarter of 2013, Manchester United brought in a profit of £19.8 million, or about $33 million in U.S. cash. That was up from £19 million for the same period in 2012, when the Old Trafford club was on its way to a Barclays Premier League Championship.
The club saw sales in those final three months of 2013 edge close to £123 million, or about $205 million, largely from the Manchester United commercial and broadcasting offshoots.
On a conference call with the publicly traded club’s shareholders as well as financial analysts, Manchester United Vice Chairman Ed Woodward said that the strong performance on the balance sheet combined with what he called the club’s “disappointing” position in the league table means that the 20-time Premier league champs are gearing up to make big moves in the summer transfer window.
“We will focus on building a competitive squad that challenge for trophies,” Woodward said.
According to a report in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, that means the Glazer family, the Americans who own Manchester United as well as the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are ready to fork over a £100 million — $166 million — check for embattled Manager David Moyes to spend on new players.
“We wouldn’t necessarily be looking to churn a huge number of players because that can have a destabilizing effect,” Woodward said. “but we aren’t afraid of moving in the market in a way that perhaps we haven’t seen in recent years.”
He added that while the usual Manchester United practice has been to make three purchases and three sales each year, “it’s possible we’ll do more than that.”
His statements on the earnings call came on the same day that Manchester United, mired in seventh place in the Premier League table, traveled to Emirates Stadium in North London where they slogged through an uninspiring 0-0 stalemate with second-place Arsenal.
The draw leaves Manchester United without a win in its last three matches and at 47 points, 11 behind Liverpool who cling to fourth place, the final Champions League qualifying slot.
If Manchester United fails after their final 13 games to grab one of those top four positions, it would be the first time that the club was absent from the European championship tournament after 19 straight appearances.