EPL

Manchester United’s billion-pound squad breaks UEFA record

By Sports Desk February 14, 2024

Manchester United’s squad at the end of last season was the most expensively-assembled on record, according to a UEFA report.

The Red Devils’ squad at 2023’s financial year-end cost a collective 1.42 billion euros (£1.21bn) in transfer fees, eclipsing the figure of 1.33 billion euros recorded by Real Madrid in 2020.

The United squad at the end of 2022-23 included £82million Brazilian winger Antony, £80m England defender Harry Maguire, £73m signing Jadon Sancho and the £60m Brazil midfielder Casemiro.

Further recruits last summer such as Mason Mount, Andre Onana and Rasmus Hojlund are not counted within the figures.

UEFA’s European Club Finance and Investment Landscape report found three other clubs’ squads – Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid – cost more than one billion euros in transfer fees in their most recently disclosed financial year-end figures. Chelsea’s most recent figures go up to the year end June 30, 2022, and therefore do not include their heavy spending in the summer of that year or the January 2023 window.

United have become one of 15 English top-flight clubs recognised within the report as being part of a multi-club investment group, with the purchase of a 25 per cent stake by Ineos founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe almost complete. Ineos also holds majority stakes in French side Nice and Swiss club Lausanne.

In all, 105 top-division European clubs (13 per cent of the total number) have a cross-investment relationship with one or more other clubs, the report found.

There were 31 purchases of majority stakes and seven purchases of minority stakes in 2023 by groups holding a stake in at least one other European club, according to the report.

However, less than one transfer per club on average is actually executed within the same multi-club structure, the report found.

As the size of multi-club investment groups has increased, that proportion has even decreased (0.6 transfers per club in 2023 compared to 0.8 in 2021), suggesting the multi-club investment trend is not entirely driven by player transfer considerations.

Andrea Traverso, UEFA’s director of financial sustainability and research, said: “More than 300 clubs are part of multi-club investment groups, leading to an increased risk of seeing two clubs with the same owner or investor facing each other in the same competition, creating potential integrity risks at the European level.

“The current context demands strict enforcement of cost control regulations and more harmonisation of financial rules between leagues. This is paramount to limit overspending, ‘creative finance’, and rules circumvention.

“As long as differences on key regulatory matters continue between leagues, inflationary tensions will persist, contributing to imbalances and instability.”

Elsewhere, the report found spending on player wages dropped by 1.1 per cent among the clubs with the 20 largest player wage bills, with United spending 88m euros (£75m) less on player wages in 2023 compared to the year before. Barcelona and City had large increases in player wages spending – 158m euros and 68m euros (£134.8m and £58m) respectively.

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    With the three points taking City back to the Premier League summit, putting pressure on rivals Arsenal and Liverpool ahead of Sunday’s fixtures, Guardiola could switch his focus to Real.

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