"Before we proceed with our usual earnings call, I would like to pay tribute to our former goalkeeper, Harry Gregg, who passed away last week aged 87. Harry was one of the heroes of the Munich air disaster and a key member of Sir Matt’s team of talented young players, making 247 appearances for the club. To echo Sir Alex’s words, Harry was a man of great character and a true legend at our club. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
"Now, I want to provide an overview of progress towards our number one priority – winning trophies with a team playing entertaining, attacking football. Since our last call in November we have progressed to the knockout stages of the Europa League; we are through to the fifth round in the FA Cup, and we remain in the mix to qualify for the Champions League.
"This season is one of rebuild, with many changes to the squad – in terms of players who have left or gone out on loan; new players who we have brought into the club; and academy graduates that we have brought through to the first team. This process will continue as we implement our plan and our footballing vision under Ole and his coaching staff.
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"Despite being linked in the media to 111 players in January, our acquisition of just one of them – Bruno Fernandes – is an important step in that direction, demonstrating our commitment to adding experienced, world-class recruits to the exciting crop of academy graduates that are at the heart of this developing team. We will take the same planned, disciplined, approach this coming summer.
"In addition to the first team signings, somewhat under the radar, we have also made a number of exciting youth acquisitions in the past year, reflecting our commitment to bringing the best talent into our academy.
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"So far our academy graduates have contributed over a third of first team playing minutes this season and over half of our goals emphasising our academy's status as one of the most productive in elite-level European football. This is an important competitive advantage for us and represents an excellent return on the fourfold increase in investment that we have made in the academy over recent years.
"On wider industry matters, we note the continued strength of the Premier League, with a 19% [domestic] audience uplift for SKY in the season to date versus the same period last season. Sitting on the broadcast advisory committee I see the great work being done behind the scenes and we’re very pleased with the recent announcement of the Premier League’s ground-breaking 6-year pan-Nordic deal which will be effective from summer 2022.
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"Our own long-term plan is underpinned by the enduring strength of our business, which provides us with the funds and the confidence to keep investing in our team and in our facilities.
"We are proud to have been chosen to host the opening match of the 2021 Women’s European Championship next season, underscoring the continued status of Old Trafford as one of Europe’s most iconic football venues. The choice also reflects our growing role within the Women’s game, following the successful launch of our Women’s team last season and their immediate promotion to the Super League under the leadership of our manager Casey Stoney.
"In summary, while we still have much to do, we are progressing with confidence in the right direction."
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