London: The firing of Jose Mourinho cost Manchester United $25 million in pay-offs. The club already see it as money well spent.
The compensation for dismissing Mourinho and six members of his coaching staff was disclosed among “exceptional items” in the latest set of financial results published on Thursday by United that showed record revenue.
Highlighting the difficulty replacing Sir Alex Ferguson, United have now spent 33.2 million pounds dismissing the three managers hired since he retired in 2013 after 26 trophy-laden years in charge.
When Mourinho was fired in December, United were sixth in the Premier League. Former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was brought back to Old Trafford as temporary manager and he has lifted the team back into fourth — a Champions League qualification spot.
The appointment of Solskjaer and assistant manager Mike Phelan, who worked under Alex Ferguson at United, “has had a positive impact throughout the club”, vice-chairman Ed Woodward said.
“We are delighted with the improvement in the team’s performances since December and we look forward to a strong finish to the 2018-19 season.”
Solskjaer only has a contract until the end of the season and is on a loan agreement with Norwegian club Molde but hopes to stay. Woodward told investors on a conference call that Solskjaer “revived” the team by opening his reign with a club-record eight successive wins and won the Premier League’s manager of the month award.
Solskjaer is the first United manager to collect the accolade since Ferguson retired after winning 13 Premier League titles and the Champions League twice.
David Moyes lasted 10 months as Ferguson’s immediate successor before being fired along with his coaches at a cost of 5.2 million pounds in 2014.
Despite Louis van Gaal winning the first major trophy of the post-Ferguson era — the 2016 FA Cup — he was fired after two years primarily for failing to qualify for the lucrative Champions League. The pay-offs to Van Gaal and his coaches reached 8.4 million pounds.
Mourinho, who replaced Van Gaal, had a contract through next season, but the risk of missing out on the top four led to his dismissal.
United can more than cover the compensation costs given the strength of its commercial operation.
For the second quarter of the financial year — the three months to Dec. 31 — United reported revenue rising 18 per cent to a record 208.6 million pounds. The club is forecasting annual revenue to be between 615 million and 630 million pounds.
“Our continued financial strength underpins our long-term success on the field, which is the focus of everyone at the club,” Woodward said.