LONDON — Manchester United is looking at playing lucrative exhibition games overseas to fill the midweek void left by the absence of European soccer this season and the early League Cup exit.
The record 20-time English champion has forecast a 10 percent drop in revenue in 2014-15 after it failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League under David Moyes.
The struggles have left United with just one midweek Premier League game before the end of 2014, and just three in the first three months of 2015. Going overseas — the Middle East would be the most likely destination — would allow United to escape the English winter for a few days, and the addition of Radamel Falcao and Angel di Maria have made the club even more likely to attract lucrative contracts for exhibitions.
“That’s something we continue to look at, as always making sure that the preparations we do on the pitch come first,” United managing director Richard Arnold told The Associated Press. “For many years of our (pre-season) international tours, there is a plan to ensure we get that team building that goes together with getting the team all together in one place. That’s something that’s being looked at with regards to the future (exhibitions) with Louis (Van Gaal).”
Van Gaal said during United’s preseason tour of the United States, shortly after taking over as manager, that the obligations to sponsors and distances the team has to travel was “not very positive for a good preparation” for the Premier League campaign.
But Arnold said there’s no disagreement with Van Gaal over the possibility of taking on more commercial ventures.
“I can only speak positively of my experience with the manager in terms of his understanding of what’s required to get a first-class team onto the pitch and also what’s required for running a club of our magnitude,” Arnold said. “We have a fantastic partnership in terms of our work off the pitch and I’m very appreciative of the support we have had from him.”
Photo via Robert Mayer/USA TODAY Sports Images
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