Manchester United prepare for signing spree

Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:44am EST
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By Neil Maidment

LONDON (Reuters) - English soccer champions Manchester United will ramp up spending on new players to improve their ailing squad and boost the team's chances of winning the trophies that have been key to their financial success.

United, slumped in 7th place in the Premier League in a tough debut campaign for new manager David Moyes, on Wednesday posted an 11.6 percent rise in second-quarter revenue showing their on-pitch difficulties had not yet effected business.

The club said they would invest to ensure they could compete for top honors and the TV and sponsorship windfalls that come with them. United signed Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata for a club record fee of 37.1 million pounds ($61 million) in January but need reinforcements in defense and a commanding midfielder.

"We aren't afraid of moving in the market in a way that perhaps we haven't seen in recent years ... Historically we've had roughly three sales and three purchases each year and it's possible that we will do more than that," Ed Woodward, Executive Vice Chairman said on a conference call, adding everyone from Moyes down had acknowledged their poor league position.

"Over the medium term we would expect annual net player capex to track higher than our historical average as we invest in our squad as needed in order to make sure we're competing at the highest level," Woodward said.

He said that he could not give the likely range of spending, but added that some players would be sold this summer and that youth players would continue to be nurtured at the club.

The club, which last year won a record 20th Premier League title in Alex Ferguson's last season as manager, are 16 points off leaders Chelsea with more than half the season gone and are in danger of missing out on a place in the lucrative UEFA Champions League for the first time since 1995.

Asked what financial impact missing out on a Champions League spot this season would have on the club, Woodward said its global fan base and commercial pull would see them cope.   Continued...

Manchester United supporters wave flags outside the stadium before their English Premier League soccer match against Blackpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England, May 22, 2011. REUTERS/Darren Staples