United tour to recoup lost Euro millions
Manchester United will seek lucrative friendlies in the Middle East, United States and India next season if David Moyes fails to salvage European qualification from his disastrous first campaign in charge at Old Trafford.
With United bracing themselves for a £20m financial shortfall if, as expected, they are absent from the Champions League for the first time in 19 years next season, the club are already exploring the possibility of glamour friendlies across the globe during weeks previously devoted to European games.
United, who will bank in excess of £12m from a five-game tour of the US this summer, earned £2m when providing the opposition for Saudi Arabian player Sami al-Jaber's testimonial in Riyadh in January 2008 and the club are confident similar offers will come their way if they are not involved in Europe next season.
With fellow heavyweights such as AC Milan, PSV Eindhoven, Lyon and Valencia all struggling to secure European qualification via their own leagues, there is also the prospect of high-profile friendlies against such clubs being played the Middle East.
Despite the contingency plans being made for next season, Moyes and his players have been told that securing a Europa League place has become a priority. Senior figures at United regard European qualification as important for the club's global reputation, as well as finances, and the Europa League is not viewed at Old Trafford with the same scepticism as at other clubs.
But United's prospects of qualifying for Uefa's much-maligned sister competition to the Champions League will be affected by a Sunderland victory over Manchester City in the League Cup final tomorrow – an outcome which would ensure that seventh position in the Premier League would not earn qualification for Europe.
If any club outside of Arsenal, City or Everton were to win the FA Cup, only fifth place would offer European qualification through the league, hence United's determination to assess alternative options next season. (© Daily Telegraph, London)