Manchester United have underlined the importance of a top-three finish to their business planning as the club's commercial revenues continue their remarkable upward trajectory.
Chief executive Ed Woodward also declared himself "excited" by BT Sport's deal for Champions League coverage as the club announced record quarterly revenues. The weekend win over Arsenal saw top-three ambitions improve as the gap on the leaders was cut to five points.
United's relatively quiet summer – with Marouane Fellaini the only arrival – saw net player capital expenditure for the quarter fall by £2.7m from the previous-year quarter to £26.8m. Though money is available should manager David Moyes need to reinforce in January, the vagaries of the winter transfer window mean purchases are likely to be opportunistic.
"Staff costs" for the quarter were £52.9m – an increase of £12.6 m (31.3 per cent) on the previous-year quarter – principally due to the impact of a full period of wage costs relating to players signed part way through the prior quarter and wage increases created by new contracts for the likes of Nani. The figures were also impacted by a one-off receipt of £1.3m in respect of players on international duty at Euro 2012, paid in the previous quarter.
The fact that money continues to be raked in to pay for new signings was revealed in the club's commercial revenues. In the three months to 30 September, United generated a record £98.5m – up 29 per cent year on year – with sponsorship revenue up 63 per cent as 12 new deals kicked in.
The club said income remains on course to be £420m-£430m in 2013-14 if the team finish at least third in the league and reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League and domestic cups.
The start of the new three-year Premier League TV deal from this season has also led to United's broadcast revenue rising by 41 per cent to £19.3m.