Manchester United's failure to qualify for the Champions League this season could see them miss out on close to £60m of sponsorship, broadcast and match-day revenue – piling the pressure on manager Louis van Gaal. United must beat AFC Bournemouth on the final day of the Premier League season this Sunday (15 May 2016) and hope that rivals Manchester City lose at Swansea City on the same day in order to sneak into the top four.
While failure to do so would swell scrutiny surrounding Van Gaal's future at Old Trafford, it would also trigger millions of pounds of losses and potentially eat into the club's record-breaking £750m kid deal with Adidas. The club expected match-day and broadcast revenue to be effected to the tune of more than £30m ($43m), though this could represent just the start of their financial problems.
United face being hit with a 30% reduction to the cash they would expect to receive from Adidas for every 12 months of their 10-year deal, which currently stands at £75m, if they fail to qualify for the group phase of Europe's biggest club competition two years on the bounce.
While this clause would not be activated at the end of this term, it may be triggered should they fall further behind domestic rivals. Therefore from 2017-18 at the earliest, the 20-time league champions may incur a £23m penalty, to be spread over the remaining years of the deal. The Adidas contract runs until 2025.
United have not failed to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League in successive seasons since before English clubs were reinstated in European competition in 1991.
However, should United fail to finish in the top four for the second time in three years it would be expected to severely damage their hopes of luring big-name players to the club – particularly during a summer where their Premier League adversaries' transfer dealings will be supplemented by funds distributed from first year of the new £5.14bn television contract.
Head of corporate finance, Hemen Tseayo, speaking on a conference call to investors after the announcement of the club's third quarterly figures to 31 March, said: "In terms of match-day, if we were to qualify for the Europa League it should be mid-single digits. In terms of broadcasting it is a little over £30m in terms of revenue. In terms of getting to getting to the quarter-finals of both the loss would be in the high single digits.
"There is a clause [in the contract with Adidas] that states if we do not participate in the group stage of the Champions League in two consecutive season, there would be a 30% reduction on what we would have received in that year. The cash impact of that is spread over the remaining life of the deal. The first year that would bite us in terms of the cash received would be the 17-18 season, should that happen.
"We only had one other contract that had a penalty clause in it and that is the Chevrolet contract. That only bites if we're relegated from the Premier League, and that is not something that keeps us awake at night."