#Manchester United stand to receive nearly £40m in Europa League prize money if they beat Spanish side Celta Vigo and advance to the final in Stockholm, Sweden on May 24.

The sum would eclipse their earnings from their unsuccessful 2015-2016 Champions League campaign where Manchester United exited the group stage.

Friday will see the Reds take a 1-0 lead into the semi-final decider at Old Trafford against Celta Vigo after Marcus Rashford’s second-half free-kick gave them the crucial advantage at the Estadio de Balaidos.

United started brightly against their opponents but Celta custodian Sergio Alvarez provided one of the strongest goalkeeping displays against the side.

The 19-year-old Rashford allowed his team-mate Daley Blind to step over the ball before whipping it into the far corner in what was later said to be one of the greatest in United free-kicks history.

Manchester United could ease the pain

Sources told ESPN FC that the pain of missing out on the Champions League this season would not be as bad if Jose Mourinho’s side progress to the Europa League final which will be held at the Friends Arena.

The then Louis van Gaal-led Manchester United pocketed £34.4m after being eliminated from last season’s Champions League and another £3.4m from the Europa League pot after reaching the last 16. The club will reveal their third quarter financial results on May 16.

Manchester United have a chance to increase their earnings this season by €6.5m (£.5.5m) if they win the tournament or €3.5m (£2.95m) if they lose in the final. The final will be against Dutch club Ajax or Lyon of France, with both sides meeting at the Stade de Lyon.

Liverpool reached the Europa League final last season where they lost to Sevilla in Basel and banked £34.2m in prize money while reaching the semi-finals earned Manchester United a similar amount.

The earnings Manchester United stand to make will reduce the impact of failing to play in the current season of Europe's flagship club competition.

What the fans say

The matter sparked a debate on social media with fan Zippy Love saying the prize money provided an incentive to prioritise the Europa League.

However, another commenter, Albert Lin, said the prize money is not an issue and insisted that what matters most is getting in form and beating Celta Vigo, advancing to the final and winning the trophy.

Another commenter, Alex Stavrianidis, said Manchester United, who are gunning for a European and domestic cup treble, are already wealthy and do not need the prize money and instead should focus on getting a piece of the next Champions League action.

Another follower, Joel Aming, said United have a tough road to the Champions League as the club need to clinch a difficult number of wins in the Europa League to do so. #Europa League Final #Champions League