Sport Soccer

Wednesday 1 October 2014

United's £220m stock shock piles on pressure

Moyes seeks Cup respite after slide sees share price plummet

Mark Ogden

Published 04/01/2014 | 02:30

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Manchester United's Ashley Young has been ruled out due to a shoulder injury picked up in this collision with Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris PA WIRE

Manchester United's struggle to challenge for Champions League qualification has led to £220m being wiped off the club's stock market valuation in a month.

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United, who will be without the injured Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie and Ashley Young for tomorrow's FA Cup third-round tie against Swansea at Old Trafford, have seen their share price on the New York Stock Exchange drop by more than 12pc from £10.68 to £9.34 since December 6 -- despite the S&P 500 Index on which the club is listed enjoying a 2pc overall rise in that time.

With the total valuation of the club at £1.75bn on December 6, it had dropped to £1.53bn during morning trading in New York.

The drop in the club's value dates back to early October. Although United's share price rallied in late-November, following the announcement of positive forecasts of annual turnover in quarterly accounts, the loss in value since early December has coincided with the team's inability to break into the top four.

United announced a 29.1pc rise in revenues for the first quarter of the year, but while forecasted revenue for the full year was between £420-£430m, that figure was based on the assumption that the team would finish at least third in the Premier League this season and reach the Champions League quarter-finals.

ADRIFT

With United drawn to face Greek champions Olympiakos in the Champions League round of 16 next month, Moyes' team appear to be on course to achieve the target of progression to the last-eight stages of the competition.

But with Spurs consigning United to their fourth home league defeat of the season on New Year's Day, the champions lie seventh, five points adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool.

Failure to qualify for next season's Champions League would mean United miss out on at least £20m in prize money and potentially damage their commercial appeal.

United remain determined to add to their squad this month, however, with the club's owners, the Glazer family, prepared to sanction moves for players identified by Moyes.

Senior figures at United also remain confident that the club can comfortably survive missing out on the Champions League next season, with sizeable funds in place for summer transfer activity.

Despite the growing gap between United and the top four, Moyes insists his team remain capable of climbing the table and challenging in the FA Cup and League Cup, with a semi-final first-leg against Sunderland looming next Tuesday.

"I will still keep plugging away and try to win the league games," Moyes said.

"That's the job. It's getting that consistency that's really important. We have yet to find that really, albeit we won six (consecutive games) and had a defeat. I think we had four Premier League wins before the defeat against Spurs, but if you are only judging it on results, fine.

"But if you are judging it on performances then it would've been a fifth win after how we played."

Moyes, meanwhile, confirmed that Rooney would miss the Swansea game after having a scan on a groin injury, with Van Persie still sidelined with an injured thigh.

Young has also been ruled out of tomorrow's game after the controversial challenge on the England international by Tottenham 'keeper Hugo Lloris led to a shoulder injury.

Young was sent tumbling as United pushed for an equaliser in Wednesday's 2-1 home Premier League defeat by Spurs -- a rash challenge that manager Moyes and his opposite number Tim Sherwood both thought should have resulted in a penalty.

Moyes must now cope without Young. "We've got a few injuries and one is (from) the challenge the goalkeeper made on Ashley Young," said the United manager.

"It's a shoulder injury and we're not sure exactly how long he's going to be out yet.

"We've got some other injuries as well that we'll just need to look at and see how they are over the next few days."

United's third-round tie with Swansea is followed 48 hours later by a League Cup semi-final, first leg away to Gus Poyet's Sunderland.

"It's the same for both clubs (United and Sunderland), so there can't be many complaints, but I don't think it's right to be asking footballers to play on Sunday and then Tuesday," Moyes said, with Sunderland hosting Carlisle United in the FA Cup.

"They did it over Christmas and I totally understand that and the reasons why. But it's a bit harder to accept at such short notice here," he added. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

MANCHESTER UTD V SWANSEA,

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