Ferguson told to sell before he can buy

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The Independent Football

Sir Alex Ferguson will not be allowed to expand his squad this summer, even though he believes it is too weak to compete in Europe.

Last month, the Manchester United manager complained that he had only 18 outfield players to choose from, leaving him at a disadvantage compared to the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus. However, despite the club yesterday announcing a 32 per cent increase in profits before player disposals in the six months to 31 January, the chief executive, Peter Kenyon, said he will not sanction any transfers unless the squad size is kept at current levels.

"It is fair to say that if Sir Alex wants to buy someone, he will have to sell someone else," Kenyon said. "You can only field 11 players at one time and we have 24 in our squad, which, when it is supplemented with some of our younger players, we feel is the right number to get through 70-plus games a year."

Even though United maintain the highest wage bill in the Premiership, at £39.7m for the six-month period, it still represents only 43 per cent of their turnover, below that achieved by any of their rivals. The only negative note was the actual dip in overall profit to £20.3m, which arose as a consequence of United not selling any key players.