Man United News: Woodward, Stam, Financials, Project Restart

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With the exception of Belarus, South Korea and now, Germany, global football is currently suspended. The Premier League has been given the all clear by the government to restart in June, behind closed doors. United resumed training this week, albeit in small groups only.

However, there are still plenty of question marks when it comes to Project Restart, and we’ll learn more as the days go by. Until football actually returns, we still have plenty of Old Trafford related news items to cover. So let’s take a spin through the hot topics in United’s cyberspace community right now.

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Manchester United Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward, a lightning rod of a figure within the organization, gave an investor conference call today and it was a session with a high degree of news value. Typically, these calls are extremely dry, to anyone who isn’t an investment banker (Woodward’s original and primary trade), but Thursday’s call provided more than just fiscal balance sheet material.

We start there, with the third-quarter financial results revealing that debt increased 42.2% to £429.1 million, Woodard described the COVID-19 outbreak as one of the most trying moment in the club’s history, adding that the adverse economic impact from the pandemic is likely to be around £23 million.

“It is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary and testing periods in the 142-year history of Manchester United,” Woodward said.

“This club is built on resilience in the face of adversity and those qualities are being proven once again now.

“We remain firmly optimistic about the long-term prospects for the club and for our exciting, young team.”

At press time, MANU stock was currently trading at $16.22 per share, down 1.22% from yesterday’s close. It’s yearly range is $12.06-$20.48. Woodward, who has previously said that this transfer window will be unlike any other before, as it will see decreased spending, discussed the big-picture, long-term time table ahead for European football.

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“[The coronavirus] has caused significant disruption to our operations, including the postponement of all matches since mid-March and the temporary closure of our retail, catering and visitor facilities at Old Trafford,” Woodward continued.

“We are encouraged by the return of the German Bundesliga, which was the first major European league to restart last weekend, with the successful completion of nine matches, all played behind closed doors.”

“As in Germany and elsewhere, it is now inevitable that our matches will initially be played behind closed doors when the season resumes. “[These results] reflect a partial impact that the pandemic has had on the club, while the greater impact will be in the current quarter and likely beyond.”

“There are still profound challenges ahead, and for football as a whole, and it is safe to say it will not be ‘business as usual’ for some time.”

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Woodward implied that Project Restart commencing in June would then lead to European competitions, finishing up in August. We all realized that the club wouldn’t be going on a summer preseason exhibition tour, but he kind of confirmed that too.

He also acknowledged a potential delay to the start of the 2020-21 season, but remained hopeful the next season could still end in May, as usual.

Elsewhere club legend Jaap Stam is set to be named the new manager FC Cincinnati in Major League Soccer, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.

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Stam becomes just the third head coach in FC Cincinnati’s MLS history as they joined the American top flight only just last season. The Dutchman’s previous coaching stops include PEC Zwolle and Feyenoord. In addition to United, he also played at AC Milan and Lazio.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News NowBanks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly contributes to WGN TVSports IllustratedChicago Now and SB Nation.

You can follow Banks, a former writer for Chicago Tribune.comon Twitter and his cat on Instagram.

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