Manchester United will be looking to keep their faint Champions League hopes alive this evening in a must-win match away to Galatasaray with defeat potentially costing them £46million in prize money. United made their return to the Champions League this season after Erik ten Hag led the Red Devils to third in the table in his debut campaign in charge.
But they’ve been hugely disappointing in their opening four group games, losing three matches including a costly defeat to Copenhagen last time out. That loss left United bottom of their group, although qualification to the knockout stages is still a possibility.
They’re just one point behind both Copenhagen and Galatasaray and a win over the Turkish side this evening could put them back in control of their own fate ahead of their final group game against Bayern Munich. However, defeat to Galatasaray will result in United being knocked out of the Champions League with the real possibility of missing out on Europa League football too.
Going out of Europe’s elite competition could prove costly for United too with UEFA announcing a record prize money pot for this season. The Red Devils already received £13.37m for reaching the group stage and their solitary group win has given them an extra £2.4m.
But the real prize money is up for grabs in the knockout stages with teams reaching the round-of-16 receiving £8.3m. Round-of-16 winners will receive £9.2m with the four quarter-final victors being given £10.8m.
Going all the way and winning the Champions League would result in a whopping £17.3m in prize money while the runner-up is given £13.4m. United would also be missing out on the TV revenue that comes with playing Champions League knockout football in the second half of the season.
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The financial cost could be huge for Ten Hag, with reports already indicating he will have to sell before he can buy anyone in January. The Red Devils boss was heavily backed in the summer transfer window with big fees paid for Andre Onana, Mason Mount and Rasmus Hojlund.
And United already face an uphill battle to try and qualify for next season’s Champions League with a host of teams set to rival them for position. Liverpool are already in a better place than they were last year while Aston Villa and Tottenham also look a real threat to break into the top four this season as well.
Champions League football is a must for any United manager and Ten Hag will be fully aware of the ramifications if he fails to win this evening. But the financial cost could have the biggest knock-on effect heading into the New Year.
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