Manchester United’s quarterly investor call took place this week which gave another glimpse into the state of affairs behind the scenes at Manchester United.
In terms of what we learned, there are four sections we are breaking this down into: Finances and the Glazers, transfers, the team, and tone-deaf social media value.
Finances and the Glazers
Figures emerged which do not paint a pretty picture for United. The MEN report United’s total income could drop by up to £70 million this season.
This is a continued effect of missing out on Champions League football. It’s so important United can secure a place in next year’s competition.
The MEN separately reported that the Glazers have cashed in a large portion of the total £11.4 million paid out to the club’s shareholders in dividends in January. The Mail claim it was far more, and that the Glazers shared as much as £18 million.
This comes despite The Guardian reporting the club’s debt has spiked by £73 million to a total £391 million in just the past three months.
While these figures seem unsustainable, United are busy promising a busy summer of incomings on the transfer front.
Ed Woodward is quoted by The Times referring to the Bruno Fernandes deal: “Demonstrating our commitment to adding experienced, world-class recruits to the exciting crop of graduates that are at the heart of this developing team. We will take the same planned, disciplined, approach this coming summer.”
It means United are looking at quality over quantity this summer again, which increases the pressure on the recruitment team to get it right.
With the financial backdrop, it seems inevitable Paul Pogba will be sold to help fund United’s incomings.
Woodward plea for time
Nearly every comment Ed Woodward made was in reference to a rebuild and a developing team.
It showed a lack of awareness that he was the man responsible for overseeing United’s collapse from being a super-power to a Premier League also-ran.
His very first statement, via the MEN, insisted, ‘This season is one of rebuild’.
It was as if he was immediately trying to nip in the bud any potential questions about the team’s underwhelming performances on the pitch this season which have yielded only 11 wins from 25 Premier League games.
United do have to rebuild, but Woodward is using the project as his own personal shield for more time and to avoid pressure.
Social media is too important to United
United’s commercial chief Richard Arnold also spoke about how much pride the club take in social media activity relating to the club.
He was quoted by The Times: “There were over 300,000 mentions of the Bruno Fernandes signing on Twitter. Both of our new signings saw immediate growth in their own social platforms following signing for the club.
“To put that in context, shortly after completing the loan signing of Odion Ighalo, he was the top trending item worldwide on Twitter, ahead of both Brexit Day and the outcome of the impeachment trial of the US president.”
The problem is, on deadline day, much of the discussion about Ighalo was of bemusement rather than positive and praising United.
He added that the last week of Janaury was United’s second highest week of social media engagement ever. But this is what happens when a club is so badly organised that it leaves all the transfer business until the last minute.
It also goes to show United are acutely aware how damaging online protests may be to the club’s brand.
#GlazersOut and #SackWoodward have both trended several times on Twitter over the past year.
The Mail called it right, with Ian Herbert writing a column titled: “Stop gloating over web traffic and trim the debt! Manchester United executives need to end their obsession with Twitter interactions and focus more on the £391m they owe.”
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