Early Champions League exit could cost Man Utd £20m

By Ben DirsBBC Sport

Manchester United's early Champions League exit could cost the club in the region of £20m, according to a leading football finance expert.

United's loss at Basel on Wednesday saw them fail to progress from the group stage for the first time since 2005-06 and drop into the Europa League.

"The cost is between £14m-£18m, just on the TV cash," Andy Green, who writes the blog andersredexternal-link, told BBC Sport.

"And you can assume they'll lose a few million pounds on gate receipts."

Green, a critic of the club's owners, stressed that while the losses associated with the Champions League exit are not ideal, they are "not fundamental or disastrous" for the club.

"Last year, United were the losing finalists in the Champions League and the further you go in the competition obviously the more TV money you get," he said.

"Last year, for getting to the final, they got about 53m euros [£45m] in TV income and this year they got about 18m euros [£15.3m] less. But if they win the Europa League - a big if - you get £4m.

"The basic way of looking at United's finances is that they turn over about £300m, they've got about £200m of costs, most of which is wages, which leaves £100m of operating profit.

"They pay about £50m a year in interest [on debt still outstanding from the 2005 takeover by the Glazer family] and transfers have got to come out of that as well.

"So if you take that £100m they make and you say that this exit they've made from the Champions League is going to knock off about £20m, that's a bit of a hit."

United finished third in Group C, behind Benfica and Basel, after winning just two of their six games.

After making three of the last four Champions League finals, beating Chelsea on penalties in 2008 before losing to Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, dropping into the Europa League is a big blow.

"It is embarrassing to be in the Europa League," said United defender Patrice Evra. "I play for Manchester United to be in the Champions League. It's a catastrophe. We feel very sad but we deserve to go out."

United are the first team to be knocked out at the group stage the season after reaching the final and it is only the third time in 17 years that they have departed Europe's elite club competition at this stage.

Green also said that Manchester City's early exit from the Champions League was not ideal either, despite the continued bankrolling of its Abu Dhabi owners.

Uefa's Financial Fair Play Regulations, which came into force on 1 June, essentially mean teams cannot spend more than they generate from the football side of their business, or risk being excluded from European competition.

"In one respect City are fine because they're bankrolled by Abu Dhabi, so financially they can swallow it up," said Green. "But to meet the Financial Fair Play Regulations is very hard for them.

"They absolutely need to be in the Champions League every year and they need to do well. So this is not a great start in that endeavour."

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