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Sunday 19 August 2018

Woodward reveals board expects 'top three finish'

Manchester United have set a target of finishing in the top three of the Premier League this season, the club's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has revealed.

Woodward said a top-three finish was what club chiefs had budgeted for this season - and he also played down the possibility of further new signings in January to boost Louis van Gaal's squad.

He said the club are "at the start of something special" under van Gaal despite admitting income will fall by up to £48million as the price for missing out on Europe.

Woodward announced record revenues of £433.2million for last season, while it was revealed the club paid out £5.2million in compensation payments to sacked manager David Moyes and some members of his coaching team.

The United vice-chairman said in a conference call with club investors: "Our budgets assume a third-placed finish, as is ordinarily the case.

"The 2013-14 season was a very challenging and disappointing one. But under Louis there is a real feeling at the training ground that we are at the start of something special.

"We are very excited about the future and believe it's the start of a new chapter in the club's history."

Asked about the prospect of more 'cap-ex' - capital expenditure on new players - in January. Woodward played down the likelihood.

He said: "We don't intend to significantly increase cap-ex in January. We will continue to monitor in association with Louis his view of the squad and which areas we want to strengthen and which areas we want to sell.

"The usual three in, three out is par for the course in the numbers in and out each year, typically in the summer."

The annual figures also show that the club made a £23.8million profit, down from £146.4million in 2012/13 but that huge sum was entirely due to a one-off tax credit from USA assets of £155million.

United's wage bill rose 19 per cent to £214.8million, an increase of £34.3million "primarily due to the impact of player acquisitions and renegotiated player contracts", according to the annual report.

The figures reveal United's sponsorship income increased by 49 per cent last year with a number of new deals coming on stream.

Woodward said the new £750million adidas deal was a major boost for the club.

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