Manchester United Executive Vice-Chairman Ed Woodward. Photo: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters

MANCHESTER – English soccer club Manchester United forecast annual revenue would fall for the first time in five years after its failure to qualify for this season's UEFA Champions League.

The 20-time English champions endured a "turbulent season" in 2018-19 that saw the departure of manager Jose Mourinho, and could only manage a sixth place finish in the domestic league under former striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The club, which will play in the less lucrative Europa League this season, has made a stuttering start to the new Premier League campaign and sits eighth.

Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward has come under fire as United have seen a string of high-profile managers and expensive players underperform since the departure of Alex Ferguson at the end of the 2012-13 season, when they last won the league title.

"We remain focused on our plan of rebuilding the team and continuing to strengthen our youth system, in line with the philosophy of the club and the manager," Woodward said.

Despite a couple of big-money signings to bolster its defence  most notably making English centre-half Harry Maguire the most expensive defender in history  the club has been forced to rely more heavily on its youth system.

The club, whose stock has dropped more than 7% this year, is also lagging other European clubs that have either surpassed it in terms of revenue or are quickly looking to close the gap.

Last week, Spanish giants FC Barcelona reported https://www.fcbarcelona.com/en/news/1349380/fc-barcelona-presents-record-projection-of-1-billion-in-turnover-for-the-201920-season-the-leading-income-in-sports-worldwide# 990 million euros ($1.1 billion) in turnover for 2018-19 and expect it to surpass 1 billion euros this year, while United's domestic rivals Manchester City and Liverpool are also breathing down their necks.

United, which have won Europe's premier club competition three times, forecast revenue of 560-580 million pounds for fiscal 2020, down from 627.1 million ($780 million) reported for 2018-19.

The club expects adjusted core profit of 155-165 million pounds, down from 185.8 million last year.

Reuters