Manchester United’s inability to qualify for the Champions League would cost the club money, with certain players’ pay dropping by a quarter. After a 4-0 defeat at Brighton on Saturday, the Old Trafford club will be unable to finish in the Premier League top four this season.
And because of the way United structure their player contracts, another dismal campaign will have financial ramifications. A quarter of their pay will be deducted as a precautionary measure to protect the club from the revenue loss that would result from failure to qualify.
If United instead play in the UEFA Europa League or UEFA Europa Conference League next season, they will receive much less in prize money and TV revenue. So, if Cristiano Ronaldo returns for next season, his weekly compensation will drop from £385,000 to about £288,000, the lowest figure the 37-year-old has made in years.
Ronaldo has previously agreed to a pay reduction from his Juventus salary of £500,000 per week in order to make a romantic homecoming to Old Trafford at the start of the season.
Goalkeeper David de Gea, the club’s second-highest earner, may have his income cut from £375,000 to about £281,000 per week. Players can bargain for a lower pay cut, but United has made no secret of its stance, with wage cuts detailed in their annual reports.
The highest prize money available in the Champions League for the 2021–22 season is £71.66 million, with the award for winning the competition being £16.83 million, though exact quantities depend on the value of the television market. The maximum award for the Europa League winner is £16.22 million, with the winner earning £7.23 million.
A similar situation transpired towards the end of the 2018-19 season when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United finished sixth in the Premier League and only qualified for the Europa League.
The next season, United finished third in the table and qualified for the Champions League, allowing salaries to be raised again, which they did with their second-place finish last season. The current campaign, on the other hand, has been a fiasco. Despite Ronaldo’s return and the additions of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, United have gone from one disaster to the next.
Solskjaer was fired in November after a string of poor performances, including a 5-0 hammering by Liverpool at home, a one-sided 2-0 loss to Manchester City, and a humiliating 4-1 loss at Watford. Ralf Rangnick was brought in as an interim manager, but United’s record has remained stagnant, and a huge gap has opened up between them, City, and Liverpool.
They were knocked out of the Champions League in the round of 16 by Atletico Madrid, and they were knocked out of the FA Cup by Championship team Middlesbrough. This has sparked a new round of organized fan protests against the Glazer family, the club’s unpopular American owners.
When he takes over as manager in the summer, it will be up to Dutch coach Erik ten Hag to restore the underachieving team and the club as a whole. His first objective will be to assess the current playing staff’s talents, a task made simpler by the fact that 10 players are expected to depart once the window opens. Those who stay are aware that their salary packages will be considerably reduced by August.