Manchester United’s players are facing a 25 per cent cut to their wages if the club fails to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
And they have Sir Alex Ferguson to blame for it.
According to the Mirror, the former United boss introduced a policy three years ago that meant wages would be slashed for failure to qualify for Europe’s premier competition.
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The clause was only included in some players’ contracts but since 2014, it has been a permanent inclusion in the contracts of all new signings.
The only way for United to qualify for the Champions League is via a top four finish in the Premier League or by winning the Europa League, but neither is a certainty at this stage of the season.
United are currently six points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City in the league standing and trail Midtjylland 2-1 after the first leg of their Europa League last-32 clash on Thursday.
Based on United’s current form, both targets will be unattainable by the end of the month.
United fans responded to the loss to Midtjylland by chanting: “We’re f****** s***!” and demanding under-fire boss Louis van Gaal be sacked as soon as possible.
The Dutchman looked to have turned a corner after an impressive 3-0 win against Stoke earlier in the month but a disappointing 2-1 loss to relegation-threatened Sunderland followed a 1-1 draw at Chelsea in which United conceded in the 91st minute.
The pay-cut clause was included in all new contracts after United finished seventh in the 2013-14 season, the first campaign after Ferguson’s resignation.
As quoted by the Mirror, a club insider said: “The club felt it was right players should be rewarded for reaching the top four but also share the financial repercussions if the team miss out."
The clause clearly hasn’t had the desired effect on United’s players, who have had to cope with the loss of several teammates through injury lately.
David de Gea became the 14th player on United’s injury table when the goalkeeper injured his knee in the warm-up before the Midtjylland defeat. Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney is unable to help his team’s cause after suffering a knee injury in the defeat to Sunderland which rules him out of action for two months.
It means United’s best two players are currently wounded. Rooney has rediscovered his best form since the turn of the year and has scored seven goals in his last nine games, while Sergio Romero’s impressive display in relief of De Gea shouldn’t fool United fans into thinking the Argentine is a worthy replacement.
Perhaps United’s hierarchy should increase the wage cuts to 50 per cent. That would certainly inspire an upturn in form.