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The Guardian reports on Saturday that Manchester United are considering playing overseas friendlies next season, should they fail to qualify for any European competition.
United are currently struggling in the Premier League and even a Europa League berth is far from assured, with the potential loss of revenue from being involved in European competition estimated at more than £20m.
The club are considering making up that hole in the finances by playing a series of overseas friendlies at suitable times in the season, using their popularity as a brand to earn back much of the money they will miss out on by not being involved in the Champions League.
Jamie Jackson writes:
For reaching the Champions League last-16 last season United received £28.9m from Uefa, plus around £2m per home game from ticket sales. With the club having played four matches in that campaign at Old Trafford—three group games and the second last-16 leg—that means United earned nearly £35m from the competition.
United are working on a loss of around £20m for failure to play in either of Uefa's club competitions and believe playing friendlies overseas during the gap in their schedule will help recoup a sizeable proportion of this.
United played a testimonial in Saudi Arabia, in January 2008, for the former Wolverhampton Wanderers reserve team player Sami Al-Jaber. The team jetted out to the Middle East directly after a Premier League game against Reading on a Saturday for the friendly two days later in what was a 6,000-mile round trip.
While that exercise yielded the club around £1m, during the six intervening years the increase in social media and new pay-per-view models means they could expect to earn considerable sums from other friendlies, beyond any appearance money offered by the hosts.