Cristiano Ronaldo already paying off transfer fee as Man Utd finances laid bare

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Cristiano Ronaldo has made a huge impact since rejoining Manchester United from Juventus in the summer – and that is not just on the pitch. Ronaldo has scored nine goals in 12 games for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side so far this season and he is also proving his worth in a commercial sense off the pitch.

United did not initially seek out the signing of Ronaldo in the summer transfer window, with the additions of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane the clear priorities.

But they moved quickly to secure the 36-year-old star on a two-year contract after it appeared he could be destined for rivals Manchester City.

United forked out an initial £12.85million (€15m) and committed to another £6.86m (€8m) in add-ons for Ronaldo and handed him a deal worth in the region of £500,000 per week, according to The Mirror.

That is a significant outlay, even for a club of United’s size, and it is evident in the club’s financial results for the first quarter, which were released on Wednesday.

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The numbers revealed that United’s wage bill had increased by 23 per cent to £88.5m in the first quarter of 2021/22, largely due to the arrivals of Ronaldo, Sancho and Varane.

However, that increase in expenditure was offset by a rise of 16 per cent to £126.5m in overall revenue in the three months up to September 30, as compared to the same period in 2020.

That rise includes a boost of £4.9m to £28m in retail and merchandise revenue – and that is where the Ronaldo factor comes into play.

Ronaldo is one of the most famous players in the world and there is no doubt that United’s decision to bring him back to Old Trafford was taken in part because of the benefits that come with his profile.


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Ronaldo has taken the famous No 7 shift at United and the club have clearly sold plenty already this season, with the return of fans to Old Trafford another helpful factor after the fanless era at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, it is unlikely that Ronaldo will be able to entirely pay off his transfer fee through shirt sales alone.

That is because kit deals in football are licencing contracts. United earn £75m per year from Adidas, who manufacture their kit, but only around 10 to 15 per cent of the overall revenue from the shirt sales themselves.

Nevertheless, the results are positive for United, who have enjoyed a clear bounce back from the problems caused by COVID-19.

Operating losses at the club are down from £27m to £10m in the first quarter of 2021/22, although United’s debt remains at £439.7m.

United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was happy with the overall financial picture, but reiterated that the on-pitch results were the priority for the club ahead of Solskjaer’s must-win game against Watford on Saturday.

“While these financial results today demonstrate our resilience through the pandemic, our top priority is success on the pitch,” Woodward told the club website.

“The manager, players and everyone at the cub are determined to achieve that objective.”

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