United wages soar after Bosman

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The Independent Online
Manchester United yesterday revealed that the Bosman ruling and the Alan Shearer transfer from Blackburn to Newcastle had caused a surge in players' wage inflation that had increased its wage bill by pounds 5m a year.

Martin Edwards, the club's chief executive, said the Bosman ruling, which enables the free transfer of players within the EU if they have come to the end of their contracts, had pushed the club to sign new longer-term deals with all five of its new foreign imports as well as eight others of its first team squad.

The four- and five-year deals cover Karel Poborsky, who joined United in a pounds 3.5m deal from Slavia Prague, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the Norwegian striker. Players such as Gary Pallister, David Beckham and the brothers Gary and Phillip Neville have all re-negotiated their contracts. Negotiations with Ryan Giggs are continuing.

The club said the wage spiral "could not continue".

Mr Edwards also revealed that the withdrawal of the team's unpopular grey kit last season had cost it pounds 500,000.

The details emerged as Manchester United announced profits excluding transfer fees of pounds 16.7m for the year to July 1996. This compared to pounds 16.3m the previous year. The figures were held back by lower sales due to the reduced capacity at its Old Trafford stadium in the early part of the season because of building work on a new stand. Mr Edwards said the club shop was taking pounds 25,000 per home game at the beginning of the season with the reduced capacity. The figure rose to pounds 75,000 by the end of the season when the new stand was completed and the capacity was expanded to 55,000.

He said the current "take" per game was pounds 1.4m, almost double the figure in the 1993-94 season. Net expenditure on transfer fees was pounds 1.3m.

A new museum and a third store are planned. The club is also looking at a new 100-acre site for a training facility.

Investment, page 25