Manchester United chiefs have admitted the club could lose revered manager Louis van Gaal, as well as their top players, if they fail to qualify for the 2015/16 Champions League campaign.
The Red Devils slipped out of Europe’s elite club competition after finishing last season seventh in the Premier League table, following a disastrous campaign under the management of David Moyes.
Van Gaal has been appointed to steady the ship and help the Red Devils secure a top-four finish at the first attempt - to get England’s most famous football club back into the Champions League - but potential investors have been warned that failure to return to the world’s most lucrative club competition could have a catastrophic impact.
A recently-released prospectus issued by United’s unpopular owners, the Glazer family, warns investors of the potential implications of missing out on a Champions League place next season.
It states that the club’s 10-year kit deal with adidas will drop a massive 30 per cent from £75 million to £52.5 million per year if the Red Devils fails to qualify for the competition within two seasons.
While it also says key members of the coaching staff, as well as the club’s highest-paid players, could leave Old Trafford.
The prospectus reads: "Because of the prestige associated with participating in the European competitions, particularly the Champions League, failure to qualify for any European competition, particularly for consecutive seasons, would negatively affect our ability to attract and retain talented players and coaching staff, as well as supporters, sponsors and other commercial partners.
"Failure to participate in the Champions League for two or more consecutive seasons would also reduce annual payments under the recently announced agreement with adidas by 30 per cent of the applicable payment for the year in which the second or other consecutive season of non-participation falls."
Watch: Van Gaal's first Man United press conference
Will United bounce back next season?
Big things are expected from Manchester United following the appointment of Van Gaal, who enhanced his already world-class reputation by leading Netherlands to an unexpected third-place finish at the World Cup finals in Brazil.
The veteran Dutch coach, whose CV boasts past stints with the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, has already spent close to £60 million this summer on the acquisitions of Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw and is expected to continue spending up until the transfer window closes on September 2.
But United clearly need further reinforcements to close the gap on Manchester City and Chelsea. A fourth-place finish is not beyond the Red Devils, but they will face stiff competition from Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and possibly even Everton, who completed the £28 million signing of powerful striker Romelu Lukaku on Wednesday.
Van Gaal has a three-year contract with the Red Devils - but will he feel forced to leave Old Trafford if United fail to qualify for the Champions League for a second consecutive season?