Manchester United wage bill at record high as club say summer spend a one-off

Manchester United’s football director, John Murtough, insists the club will not repeat this summer’s level of spending after the wage bill hit record levels.

United bought Antony, Lisandro Martínez, Casemiro and Tyrell Malacia and signed the free agent Christian Eriksen to bolster the squad for Erik ten Hag. The outlay was more than £200m and that will add pressure to a wage bill which is the highest in Premier League history after the previous year’s signings of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho and Raphaël Varane saw salary costs leap 19.1%, a rise of £61.6m to £384.2m, for the financial year ending in June. That figure surpasses the previous mark set by Manchester City (£355m).

United’s chief financial officer, Cliff Baty, said those wage increases were “in line with expectations” and that savings as a result of not having to pay Champions League qualification bonuses would result in a reduction next year of “high single digits” of millions. Nevertheless, the wage increase contributed to the club making a net loss of £115.5m, £23m higher than 12 months previously, for the 2021-22 season.

Despite revenue rising by £89.1m (18%) to £583m, the club’s net debt also went up, from £419.5m in 2021 to £514.9m this year, an increase of more than 22%. United put the majority of that £95.4m rise primarily down to £64.6m of unrealised foreign exchange losses on the retranslation of borrowings in United States dollars. The club still paid out dividends of £33.6m.

“We will continue to support Erik in ensuring he has players with the right quality and characters to achieve success, while ensuring that investment remains consistent with our commitment to financial sustainability,” Murtough said. “Overall, we are ahead of schedule in our recruitment plans as envisaged at the start of the summer, and we do not anticipate the same level of activity in future windows. As always, our planning focuses on the summer window.”

United spent £24.7m on payoffs to Ole Gunnar Solskjær, sacked as manager in November, Ralf Rangnick, who did not take up a two-year consultancy role at the end of the season having initially assumed interim charge, and their associated coaching staff.

The Manchester United Supporters’ Trust claimed the Glazer family were rewarding failure in sharing the dividend. “There is nothing wrong in principle with companies paying dividends to owners but there should be no rewards for failure and that is what we see here,” a Must statement said.

“At a football club we believe dividends should only be paid when there is both financial success and success on the field. Via the fans advisory board and the fans forum, Must representatives will now be calling for an urgent review of the club dividend policy.”