MANCHESTER United are staring at a potential £86million financial black hole unless interim chief Ralf Rangnick can turn the club’s fortunes around.
Monday’s desperate 1-0 home defeat by Wolves left United in seventh on 31 points, four points adrift of Arsenal in the battle for the top four.
United are also already two points below resurgent Spurs, who have a game in hand over them and two more to play than their north London rivals, while West Ham are on 34.
And most damningly, they are closer to Norwich at the bottom of the Premier League table than they are to Manchester City at the top.
While United’s upcoming fixtures offer them a chance to get back in the top-four equation, the financial repercussions of missing out will add to the pressure.
Qualifying for the Champions League would be worth around £46m without kicking a ball.
United currently stand ninth in the “10-year coefficient” table which sees 30 per cent of prize money distributed to the 32 qualifying clubs before the start of the competition, and would see them bank just under £23m.
United would also earn the £13m equal share for qualifying for the group phase, while finishing fourth in the Prem would be worth an extra £10m from the first part of the English element of the television “market pool”.
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But by winning their group with three victories and two draws, United have already earned another £16.5m this season, money which would also disappear from the balance sheet.
With each home game worth around an additional £6m in revenues, United’s exploits in Europe so far this term add up to that £86m figure.
Playing in the Europa League could see a maximum of £23m plus gate revenues recouped, while staying seventh and playing in the Europa Conference League would mean a maximum UEFA payment of £14.1m.
It adds to the pressure on United and Rangnick ahead of the next five games before their Champions League last 16 date with Atletico Madrid.
United, who play Aston Villa in the FA Cup third round next Monday, then travel to Villa Park to meet Steven Gerrard’s team again in the Prem.
They then host former boss David Moyes’ in-form Hammers, before must-win February games against Burnley, Southampton and Leeds.
A maximum points haul from those games would lift United back into the mix but a repeat of their display against Wolves would see the financial ghouls start to rise.
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