Ed Woodward has backed Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho, pledging investment aimed at winning trophies and maintaining the club’s place as the “biggest sports team in the world”.
After finishing second, 19 points behind neighbours Manchester City last term, the Red Devils have endured a topsy-turvy start to the Premier League campaign which leaves them seventh in the standings.
A title challenge already looks a tough ask but United continue to achieve off the field, with the club announcing record revenues on Tuesday in excess of half a billion pounds for the third consecutive financial year.
United brought in £590million in the year ending June 30 2018, with revenue expected to rise to between £615m and £630m over the coming financial year.
United executive vice-chairman Woodward believes those ever-improving figures will aid the club’s quest for silverware, with the executive vice-chairman saying “everyone at the club is working tirelessly to add to Manchester United’s 66 and Jose’s 25 trophies”.
The Portuguese boss clearly retains the confidence of the hierarchy despite some poor results of late and appears set to be backed in the transfer market after a frustrating summer.
“As it is easy to get caught up in the game-by-game fluctuations of our season, or even the relatively minor pieces of business and industry news, I would like to take this opportunity to take a step back and look at the bigger picture,” Woodward told investors on Tuesday.
“We’re the biggest sports team in the world as measured by number of fans.
“We know that position is one that requires continued effort and investment to maintain.
“Our board, our investors and everyone at the club are aligned with the fans on what we need to do on the pitch – and that is to win trophies.
“That’s one of the reasons why we hired Jose Mourinho and we’ve already won three with him.
“Off the pitch, it’s clearly important we continue to drive the business forward, giving us the financial muscle to compete in a highly competitive transfer market.
“This allows us to continue to blend world-class purchased talent with our continued development of top academy graduates.
“Our academy continues to be a huge source of pride, delivering talent to the first-team, and we have materially increased investment in recent years.”
United’s quest for trophies saw the wage bill reach an eye-watering £295.9m in 2018 – a hike of £32.4m over the previous year.
The club says that increase is “primarily due to player salary uplifts related to participation in the UEFA Champions League” – but Alexis Sanchez’s January arrival will also have made an impact.
Their wage bill was significantly more than Manchester City’s £259.6m, although their revenue is substantially higher than the £500.5m figure posted by the Premier League winners.
United, who have been top of the Deloitte Football Money League for the last two years, are expecting to break the £600m barrier over the coming year, with Woodward expecting changes to UEFA competitions to play their part.
“Potential changes in the European, or worldwide football, landscapes are likely to benefit us,” he added.
“For example, UEFA’s plans for the evolution of European competitions and summer club competition opportunities.”
The accounts showed that United’s operating profit dropped by 45.4 per cent to £44.1m, which is largely due to the United States’ federal corporate income tax rate being reduced from 35 per cent to 21 per cent.
Net debt rose 19.1 per cent to £253.7m, which the club say is predominantly down to exchange rate fluctuations, while borrowings stand at £486.7m.