It isn’t just pride that Manchester United have lost by exiting the Champions League at the group stages.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side were well beaten at RB Leipzig on Tuesday night, with a slightly fortuitous late comeback not enough to save them as they eventually went down 3-2 to the Bundesliga side.
United had entered the game needing just a point to qualify for the last-16, and their drop back into the Europa League is going to leave some startling holes on the club’s balance sheets.
If United had got that point and reached the knockout stages of the Champions League then they would have been guaranteed some £8.5million, compared to – as per The Athletic – the £7.7million that is on offer to the winners of the Europa League.
The beleaguered Solskjaer would no doubt have pointed out that he’d rather have trophies than fill the pockets of the club owners, but these shortfalls are what football executives are paid to take notice of.
Had United grabbed what would have been a scarcely deserved equaliser in Leipzig then cracks could have been papered over, but the late save from home goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi – once of Liverpool – from his unwitting teammate Nordi Mukiele effectively cost them that £8.5million.
Going even further in the competition would obviously have earned United more, with £9.5million for reaching the last eight, £11million for the semi-finals and £17.3million for winning it, with TV money and market distribution also adding to the pot.
With United having published their financial results last month showing a 19.5 per cent fall in revenue amid the Covid-19 crisis, as well as the loss of matchday earnings from games being played behind closed doors, it really isn’t a good time for underperformance on the pitch to leave the club out of pocket on it.
That is ultimately what Solskjaer will have to answer to, as pressure on his position mounts.
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