Manchester United’s on-pitch struggles could soon give them problems off it, which would exacerbate their already disappointing performance under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United’s last game before the winter break saw them draw 0-0 in a disappointing match with Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford, a result which left them in in seventh place, and six points off Chelsea in fourth place.
New signing Bruno Fernandes was not enough to help break down Wolves’ defence, but there is concern that the whole team are not producing results on the pitch that will keep sponsors happy.
United have won the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Europa League since the departure of Jose Mourinho and look set to go two years without Champions League football at the end of this season. Fourth place looks increasingly difficult to achieve, and perhaps the more realistic route to the Champions League is through winning the Europa League - with no guarantee of success of winning the knockout tournament as bigger sides enter the competition.
The Daily Mail and other newspapers report that this miserable effort on the pitch has led to sponsors wondering if they will get value for money. Adidas reportedly have a £20 million reduction in their sponsorship agreement if the club sit out two consecutive seasons in the Champions League. Sponsors Aon and Chevrolet are also apparently concerned about the lack of reflected glory that is being gleaned from their current arrangement.
There is also a worry that United are not giving up their players to corporate events for fear of giving the wrong impression.
Deloitte, the accountancy firm, anticipates that United could lose around 10% of their revenues without the Champions League, which would wipe out their profit unless player sales and salaries are heavily reduced. This might lead to the sale of some players such as Paul Pogba, who is wanted by Juventus and Real Madrid.