* Absence from European elite hits revenues
* United set to spend heavily to support trophy challenge
* New Adidas kit deal will help to bolster finances (Writes through, adds comment, shares,)
By Neil Maidment
LONDON, May 14 (Reuters) - English Premier League soccer club Manchester United hinted on Thursday at another spending spree this summer after promising to have a squad capable of competing with the best teams in Europe next season.
Led by new coach Louis van Gaal, the 20-times champions spent around 150 million pounds ($237 million) last year after slumping to a shock seventh place in 2013/14 when they failed to qualify for the lucrative European Champions League for the first time in 19 years.
Fourth in the Premier League with only two games to go, United have effectively secured a return to the elite European competition, boosting fans’ spirits and the club’s finances.
Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward said United were pleased with Van Gaal’s performance but that the club would strengthen the squad to challenge for trophies next season.
“We expect to be active again during the (transfer) window,” Woodward said, having already agreed to sign Dutch forward Memphis Depay from PSV Eindhoven for around 30 million euros ($34.2 million).
“The squad will be absolutely deep enough and ready to challenge on all fronts next year.”
Owned for the past decade by the American Glazer family, United reported a 17.7 percent fall in third-quarter revenue to 95 million pounds, a third straight quarterly decline because of the absence of Champions League money.
Matchday and broadcast revenue both fell in the quarter but the global push to sign deals in areas from sponsorship to mobile content continued to bear fruit, with commercial revenue up 11.7 percent.
That commercial expansion -- central to the Glazers’ ambitions of cashing in on the club’s 659 million global followers - and cost savings allowed United to raise their 2015 core earnings guidance range to 103-110 million pounds.
While down from 130 million pounds a year ago the range was ahead of previous guidance of 90-95 million pounds.
Gross debt rose 12.4 percent to 395.4 million pounds, primarily because of exchange rate movements, United said.
The club’s finances will also be bolstered by a world record 750 million pound kit deal with German sportwear group Adidas from next season. Adidas has supplanted rival Nike in a 10-year agreement.
Shares in the club, down 7.2 percent on a year ago, were unchanged at closed at $15.57 in early trade, valuing the business at $2.55 billion. ($1 = 0.6336 pounds) ($1 = 0.8775 euros) (Editing by David Goodman and Keith Weir)