Man United stars set for 25 per cent wage cut
Manchester United’s failure to qualify for the Champions League will see their players hit in the pocket – with some stars seeing their salaries drop by a quarter.
The Old Trafford club can no longer finish in the Premier League top four this season following their 4-0 drubbing at Brighton on Saturday evening.
And another disappointing campaign will have financial consequences because of the way United structure their player contracts.
Up to a quarter of wages are taken away if United do not earn a place in Europe’s elite club competition, a move designed to protect the club from the drop in revenue that results from not qualifying.
United will earn significantly less in prize money and broadcast revenue if they instead play in the UEFA Europa League or UEFA Europa Conference League next season.
So star man Cristiano Ronaldo faces a reduction in his weekly wage from £385,000 to around £288,000 if he stays for next season – the lowest salary the 37-year-old has earned in some years.
Ronaldo had already accepted a substantial pay cut from the £500,000-a-week he made at Juventus in order to complete a romantic return to Old Trafford at the beginning of the season.
The club’s second-highest earner, goalkeeper David de Gea, stands to see his pay cut from £375,000-a-week to around the £281,000-a-week mark.
Players are able to negotiate for a lesser reduction but United have made no secret of this policy, with wage reductions mentioned in their annual results.
The maximum prize money available in the Champions League for the 2021-22 season is £71.66million, with the reward for winning the competition standing at £16.83m, though the exact figures depend on the value of the TV market.
By contrast, the maximum the Europa League winner can claim is £16.22m, with the winners receiving £7.23m.
A similar situation arose at the end of the 2018-19 season when United only finished sixth in the Premier League under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and only made the Europa League.
The following season, United rose to third in the table and so returned to Champions League football, allowing salaries to be revised back upwards, and that remained with last season’s second-place finish.
However, the current campaign has been a disaster. Despite the return of Ronaldo and the signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane, United have lurched from one debacle to another.
Solskjaer was sacked in November following a series of dreadful results, including a 5-0 home thrashing by Liverpool, a one-sided 2-0 loss to Manchester City and an embarrassing 4-1 defeat at Watford.
Ralf Rangnick was brought in as an interim manager but United’s form just hasn’t improved and an enormous chasm has opened up between themselves, City and Liverpool.
They crashed out of the Champions League to Atletico Madrid at the round of 16 stage and were dumped out of the FA Cup by Championship club Middlesbrough.
This in turn has led to another round of organised fan protests against the club’s unpopular American owners, the Glazer family.
It will fall to the Dutch coach Erik ten Hag to rebuild the underachieving team and the club in general when he comes in as manager over the summer.
His first priority will be to audit the abilities of the current playing staff, a task made easier by the fact 10 are likely to leave once the window opens.
Those that remain now know their pay packets will be significantly thinner come August.