Manchester United's share price has dropped by nearly £250 million, and things could get worse if they fail to qualify for the Champions League next season.
James Igoe, private client director at Wilmslow-based XCap Securities, told Alex Bell of the Manchester Evening News that United face an uphill battle to finish in the top four and retain their support in China and the Far-East:
The club peaked in May when they won the league and was worth $3.1bn, the most the club has ever been valued at.
Now though, it is worth $2.5bn, down 12 per cent in the last four weeks and 20 per cent on May last year.
It is a very real possibility that United could finish outside the top three for the first time in Premier League history, and even fail to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 1995.
ESPN attributes the drop in value and share price to the reigning champions' poor start to the season, they currently sit in seventh place, 10 points behind leaders Manchester City:
A number of factors have led to the club's decline. The adjustment from Sir Alex Ferguson to David Moyes was always going to be difficult, while a perceived lack of summer signings has left United trailing the rest of the Premier League.
Injuries to Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney have also made life difficult for new boss Moyes.
But failure to qualify for the Champions League could mean a drop in sponsorship and the failure to attract big names in the transfer market. At that stage, it becomes a genuine crisis for United.
Let us not forget that despite this drop, United are still worth a staggering amount of money and are still involved in three major competitions. A home win against Sunderland is all they need to book a cup final in Moyes' first season.
As for the gap between them and City, there is not a United fan of age who doesn't remember coming back to beat Newcastle to the 1995/96 title, complete with Kevin Keegan's meltdown.
And on the reverse side, in 2012 United let slip an eight-point lead with just six games to go to hand rivals City the title.
So while it may seem doom-and-gloom for United at the moment, there is still plenty of potential to turn the season around.
United's incredible global fan base is such that it would take only a slight upturn in form for their share price to recover, but it may get worse before it gets better as they prepare for a league trip to Chelsea.
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