English Premier League team Manchester United could play midweek friendly matches overseas to fill the void left by the absence of Uefa Champions League football at Old Trafford this season.
United failed to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition on the back of a disappointing seventh-place Premier League finish last season and last month’s surprise 4-0 loss to third-tier club MK Dons in the Capital One Cup means it is scheduled to play only one midweek match before the end of 2014.
Nevertheless, United remain a huge commercial draw – a standing enhanced by the marquee signings of Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria before the summer transfer window closed – and playing games in regions such as the Middle East would allow the club to offset a forecast 10 per cent drop in 2014-15 revenues, largely accounted for by their failure to secure Champions League qualification.
“That’s something we continue to look at, as always making sure that the preparations we do on the pitch come first,” United’s managing director, Richard Arnold, told the Associated Press news agency. “For many of our (pre-season) international tours, there is a plan to ensure we get that team building that goes together with getting the team all together in one place. That’s something that’s being looked at with regards to the future with (manager) Louis (van Gaal).”
Former Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Netherlands coach Van Gaal is in his first season in charge of United and was critical of the heavy schedule of commercial obligations and travel that his players undertook on their summer tour of the United States.
Nevertheless, Arnold believes Van Gaal remains broadly supportive of the club’s endeavours from a commercial point of view.
He added: “I can only speak positively of my experience with the manager in terms of his understanding of what’s required to get a first-class team on to the pitch and also what’s required for running a club of our magnitude. We have a fantastic partnership in terms of our work off the pitch and I’m very appreciative of the support we have had from him.”