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Ed Woodward says it is unlikely to be “business as usual” for Manchester United in the transfer market following the coronavirus crisis and hinted that the days of £100 million deals may be over.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to panic at some clubs concerned about the financial impact of the football shutdown.
Woodward insists United’s financial might means the club can show more “resilience” during what is an uncertain time, but he has warned fans not to expect big money transfers when the summer window opens.
“Nobody should be under any illusions about the scale of challenge facing everyone in football and it may not be ‘business as usual’ for any clubs, including ourselves, in the transfer market this summer,” said Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman.
“As ever our priority is the success of the team, but we need visibility of the impact across the whole industry, including timings of the transfer window, and the wider financial picture, before we can talk about a return to normality.
“On this basis, I cannot help feeling that speculation around transfers of individual players for hundreds of millions of pounds this summer seems to ignore the realities that face the sport.”
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has previously said the instability might help United “exploit” the transfer market and despite Woodward’s caution, sources have told ESPN the club still expect to be active in the next window.
Solskjaer is keen to revamp his forward line and there is still significant interest in Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho and Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish.
United still have plenty to play for this season if and when it resumes with the Europa League, FA Cup and a place in the top four up for grabs.
Solskjaer’s team still have nine Premier League games to play and Woodward expects at least some of those to be held in empty stadiums.
“We are eager to see the team return to the field as soon as we are advised it is safe to do so, hopefully to complete a season which still held so much promise for us in the Premier League, the Europa League and the FA Cup when it was suspended,” Woodward told a fans’ forum by conference call on Friday.
“While it may be that games need to be played behind closed doors in the shorter term, we all recognise that football will not be fully back to normal until supporters are once again in attendance.”