Manchester United warn of long-term economic effect of COVID-19 virus

On this day 21 years ago, ITV’s Clive Tyldesley uttered those famous words in Barcelona:

“Sheringham and Solskjaer has won it!  Manchester United have won it.”

Subsequently, The Red Devils lifted the Champions League for only the second time in their history, in so doing they completed the famous 1999 treble consisting of the Premier League, FA Cup and the prestigious European Trophy.

Fast-forward to the here and now, Manchester United has forecast that annual revenue would fall for the first time in five years after its failure to qualify for this season’s UEFA Champions League.

Manchester United say the coronavirus pandemic has cost them an initial £28 million – and expect the final figure to be far higher.

Manchester United’s Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said:

“Our third-quarter results reflect a partial impact that the pandemic has had on the club but the greater impact will be in the current quarter and likely beyond.

“These are unprecedented times and we must recognise that this crisis will not disappear overnight.

“However, our club is built on a solid foundation. We remain firmly optimistic about the long-term prospects for the club once we have worked our way through what is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary and testing periods in the 142-year history of Manchester United.”

United, however, do have history of coming back from adverse situations, most notably the Munich air disaster that affected Sir Matt Busby’s ‘Busby Babes’ in 1958.

One of the clubs best ever a player at the time, Duncan Edwards, was among them.  That year they would go onto to some how make the FA Cup final and just 12 years after that fatal incident they would lift their first European Trophy in 1968.

Chief financial officer, Cliff Baty, estimated the lockdown cost United £23 million in the final two weeks of March because of the postponement of one Premier League away fixture (worth four million pounds at Tottenham Hotspur), a home Europa League last-16 tie against LASK (Linzer Athletik- Sport- Klub), the FA Cup quarter-final at Norwich City, broadcasting reductions plus the closure of the Old Trafford megastore, Red Cafe and United Events.

The managing director, Richard Arnold, said:

“The economic ramifications from this global pandemic will continue to resonate for years to come, but we remain optimistic about the long-term outlook for the sponsorship business and our ability to remain a leader within the market.”

United are also waiting on the Football Association to make some crucial decisions that could have a big impact on their interim future.

The Football Association will remain determined to get the FA Cup, which is up to the quarter-final stage, played.

Wembley Way is quiet due to the current crisis. If the FA Cup does get back up and running this season then Wembley Way will still be silent when the final is played. The idea of football returning without fans and an empty stadium will be a quite a different feeling for the players.

That might be as good a reason as any to cancel it. Will winning the FA Cup when no fans are there to celebrate really feel like winning the FA Cup at all?

For now United’s teams are waiting to hear how their chances of lifting a trophy this season are going to be affected by football’s new terrain.

Article written by Subeer Suri

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