The owners of Manchester United have played down the implications of the club’s failure to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Last night’s defeat to Benfica is likely to have cost the club up to £15m in prize money, but a Glazer family spokesman denied that the financial loss would be critical to United’s long-term ambitions.

“It was a disappointing result but has no bearing on the family’s long-term ownership of Manchester United,” said the spokesman.

Asked about the financial implications, he said there was enough “slack” in the investment to deal with the situation.

United’s 2-1 loss to Benfica on Wednesday evening means the side have no European action to look forward to after the new year for the first time in a ten years. Their exit could not have been more untimely with United under pressure to repay the debts borrowed by Malcom Glazer when he bought the club.

However, the Glazers appear to be unconcerned by the result, saying that the family was used to coping with the “ups and downs” of sport.

He added: “We’re still second in the Premiership. The show must go on.”

Asked about Sir Alex Ferguson’s position as manager, the spokesman refused to comment, stating that everyone at the club was focusing on Sunday’s Premier League encounter with Everton.

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