Stock price drop adds to van Gaal's many woes

LONDON • Embattled Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal suffered a fresh blow on Monday, when the English Premier League football club's share price dipped to its lowest level in over three years.

The Dutchman has been engaged in a battle to hold on to his job for much of a troubled season and that struggle was hardly helped by news that United's share position is not much healthier than their league status.

The Old Trafford club's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League were dented on Sunday, when Chelsea striker Diego Costa scored in stoppage time to rescue a 1-1 draw with van Gaal's team, who are now six points adrift of the top four with 13 matches remaining.

The possibility of not securing a place in Europe's lucrative elite tournament spooked investors, as United's share price dropped from US$14.50 (S$20.36) to US$13.86 during Monday's trading.

That figure is the lowest price since December 2012, meaning not even during the darkest days of David Moyes' reign had the club's shares been valued so lowly.

United's share price dropped by 2.6 per cent in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange before rising above the US$14 mark again in the afternoon.

The club's financial position remains strong, given their world record £750 million (S$1.52 billion) kit deal with adidas, but United's performances on the pitch and their league position are of clear concern to their stock investors.

Investors will get their chance to grill United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward during a conference call tomorrow, when the club's quarterly results will be announced.

Van Gaal has shown signs of cracking under the pressure of United's struggles and he bristled at suggestions he was about to be replaced by Jose Mourinho following the draw with Chelsea.

He snapped at one reporter in his post-match press conference when asked about reports that he was about to lose his job.

"You haven't spoken to Ed Woodward or (owners) the Glazers, so you are inventing this story," he said. "I don't have to answer this question and I shall not repeat myself every week. Now I have to say that you are getting the sack tomorrow. What is your name? Then I can announce the name also."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 10, 2016, with the headline 'Stock price drop adds to van Gaal's many woes'. Print Edition | Subscribe