Football isn't football, folks, it's accountancy with referees. With this in mind, the British press spent last evening trying to calculate the damage that one season of David Moyes had done to the club. And their findings are as follows:
More precisely, it depends on which paper you read. Most accept Edward Woodward's calculation that a season outside the Champions League will cost "more than £30m", which includes lost gate receipts, broadcasting revenues, and a 15% reduction in the price of executive facilities next season. The Telegraph and the Times then nudge this up towards £50m by including, a trifle tenuously, the revenues lost by finishing seventh rather than first in the Premier League along with the cost of first paying and then firing Moyes.
Not much imagination at work there. Let's see how high we can get this ...
+ £32.2m for Marouane Fellaini (£27.5m fee plus one year's wages at about £90,000/week, call it £4.7m);
+ £10m in lost future season ticket and merchandise revenues thanks to a generation of children who have spent this season pretending to be City and/or Liverpool players in the playground;
+ £30m (at least) for the new manager to replace Marouane Fellaini, which is the £32.2m above offset by the fee that will come in when he leaves;
+ £10m lost future season ticket and merchandise revenues thanks to an older generation of Manchester United fans whose hearts, livers and souls have taken a serious, mortality-hastening beating this season;
+ £26m for the installation of surface-to-air missiles;
+ £2,750 set piece ringbinder production fees;
+ £10,000 interactive whiteboards, iPads, bunker refurbishment, etc.;
+ £[undisclosed] Tom Cleverley's midfield colleagues' psychotherapy bill;
+ £15,000 lost future swear jar revenues thanks to the dismissal of noted coach "F*ck off [name redacted]"
Bringing us to a grand total of ... £154,227,750! Or, if you prefer, almost half the debt! Good work everybody.