Highest wage bill in Premier League history means Manchester United made big loss last season

·2-min read
Cristiano Ronaldo - Highest wage bill in Premier League history means Manchester United made a loss last season - Craig Brough/Reuters
Cristiano Ronaldo - Highest wage bill in Premier League history means Manchester United made a loss last season - Craig Brough/Reuters

Manchester United have revealed a Premier League-record wage bill of £384million for last season, despite failing to qualify for the Champions League.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford plus the signings of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane contributed to the highest annual salary listed in a club’s financial accounts, more than the £350m by Manchester City from 2021.

Ronaldo wanted to leave the club in the summer and is on a 25% reduction, along with other members of the squad, after they failed to finish in the top four and qualify for Europe’s elite competition.

United are counting the cost of last season’s failures, with £24.7m paid out following the dismissal of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and then Ralf Rangnick’s short spell as interim. Rangnick’s two-year deal as a consultant for United was cut short when he became Austria national manager.

“Clearly our on-pitch performance in finishing sixth in the Premier League last season fell short of our aims and expectations,” said Richard Arnold, United’s CEO.

“In response, we have made important and necessary changes, including new leadership for the men’s first team under Erik ten Hag and the strengthening of the playing squad during the summer transfer window.”

After years of making profit, United have now recorded net losses for the second year in a row, losing £115.5m this time around. Premier League FFP rules allow for losses of £105m over a three-year period but they are not expected to be under scrutiny as Covid losses and investment in other areas of the club are taken into consideration.

Arnold told investors during a conference call that the club embraces the financial fair-play rules of the domestic league and UEFA. “As you look at our activity in this space historically we have to strike a balance between investing in talent needed to perform at the levels expected of Manchester United, with the sustainability in the near and long-term. We believe both of those aims are helped by FFP.”

United also revealed they are entering the NFT (non-fungible tokens) market for fans to buy assets in the digital world. The products do not have a tangible form but can be bought and sold as property.

"We are exploring a range of blockchain-enabled fan offerings including digital collectables among other digital products," said Phil Lynch, United's CEO of digital products and experiences.