“The club would like to place on record its thanks for the hard work, honesty and integrity” Moyes brought to the role, United said on its website today. Midfielder Ryan Giggs, who has played a record 962 times for the club, will be interim manager, the team said in another statement.
United hired the 50-year-old Scot last May on a six-year contract. The Daily Mail and other U.K. newspapers reported yesterday that the Glazer family, which owns United, had lost patience with Moyes. With four of 38 games left, defending champion United is seventh in the Premier League. It has racked up 11 defeats -- its most since the championship began in 1992. Moyes replaced Alex Ferguson, the team’s most successful coach who won 38 trophies in 26 years.
“The whole handover was chaotic,” Edward Freedman, who headed United’s merchandising unit in the 1990s, said by phone, adding Chief Executive Officer David Gill departed at the same time as Ferguson. “Losing two of your top people at the same time is hardly ideal.”
Manchester United Plc shares climbed $1.06, or 6 percent, to $18.78 at the close in New York.
Giggs will “assume responsibility for the first team until a permanent appointment can be made,” United said today in a statement. United’s next game is at home against Norwich on April 26.
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal is the 2-1 favorite with oddsmaker Coral to replace Moyes. A successful $1 wager would yield a $2 profit. Ferguson is a 14-1 bet to return as coach, according to Coral.
A 2-0 loss to Moyes’s former team, Everton, two days ago ended United’s chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, which earned United 35.6 million euros ($49.1 million) in prize money last season.
It will be the first time in 19 years that United isn’t in Europe’s biggest club competition. It lost 4-2 over two games in this year’s quarterfinals to Bayern Munich.
Gill’s role was taken by Ed Woodward, a former JPMorgan Chase & Co. banker whose title is executive vice chairman.
United added Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata for a club record fee of 37.1 million pounds ($62.4 million) during the midseason transfer window and the following month extended Wayne Rooney’s contract to 2019. While Everton’s Marouane Fellaini became Moyes’s first major signing on the final day of the preseason transfer period, the Belgian midfielder has only played 20 times for United.
Woodward said in February that United plans more transfer spending after this season.
United’s slump on the field will diminish the size of future sponsorship agreements and erode merchandising sales even if the team’s earnings have held up so far, Freedman said. A 13-year jersey deal with Oregon-based Nike Inc. (NKE), worth 303 million pounds, expires next year.
“They’re not going to get the same sponsors or size of sponsors,” Freedman said. “They’re living on former glories at the moment.”
The Glazers held an initial public offering in August 2012, raising $233 million by selling 10 percent of the 136-year-old club at $14 per share. The family also owns the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League.
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