Rampant commercialism will protect Man Utd more than others during stoppage

Manchester United chiefs have increased the bonuses on offer should Champions League football return to Old Trafford next year.

Manchester United's fans have been among their biggest critics for announcing commercial tie-ins with some of the most obscure companies in the world.

Over the past few years, and specifically since Ed Woodward became executive vice-chairman of the club, United’s appetite for a new commercial partner has been ravenous.

From some of the blue-chip companies that pump millions into Old Trafford, such as Adidas, Chevrolet and Aon, to the more obscure ones like Japanese paint manufacturer Kansai or the Red Devils’ official mattress and pillow partner Milly, United are not short of a sponsor or 25.

And during the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era when success was not measured in Premier League titles anymore but increasingly in how many Twitter followers or Facebook likes the club could achieve for itself and its backers, it looked like a massive wrong-turn.

It still has been, but United now look best-equipped of all football clubs to ride out the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis and subsequent global economic downturn,

Barcelona know a thing or two about commercialisation, although they are still a bit behind United having only ended their policy of not having a main shirt sponsor less than ten years ago.

The Catalan club make millions off the back of Lionel Messi’s image plastered over their gear and have been on as many US and far eastern pre-season tours as United in the last few years to appease their worldwide sponsors and fans.

But they are feeling the pandemic’s pinch on their pocket and are in talks to reduce their overall wage bill by 70% until the coronavirus is under control and normal operations can resume in Spain.

Labour legislation in Spain allows companies to apply temporary measures to lay-off staff or reduce wages in exceptional circumstances and Barca won’t be the only club to go down this route in the next few weeks.

In Germany, Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge says the era of the 100m euros transfer could be at an end for the foreseeable future as clubs cut their cloth according to the financial hit they expect to take.

That could lead to Borussia Dortmund being unable to drive the price of Jadon Sancho above that figure or even make them think twice about committing 30m euros to the signing of Birmingham City wonderkid Jude Bellingham.

United still have huge debts from the Glazers’ leveraged takeover of the club in 2005, but global interest rates are being slashed as every government in the world attempts to stimulate a sliding economy.

No-one is suggesting United are going to be able to outbid any other club as a result of their commercial exploitation, but don’t expect any talks to reduce their wage bill to take place anytime soon.