United generated record revenue during title run
LONDON (AP) — Manchester United is projecting it will generate more than $660 million this season after breaking its revenue record while winning a 20th English title.
United pointed on Wednesday to the enduring success of its commercial operation in helping to maintain the club as a force globally, with further expansion planned in the United States in a bid to capitalize on football’s growth there.
However, United is in a transition period as David Moyes has replaced Alex Ferguson after more than 26 years as manager. The 71-year-old Ferguson retired in May after the club won the Premier League.
Moyes will be hoping the club’s financial strength will help him replicate the success of his predecessor. Controlled by the American-based Glazer family, United reported revenue rising by 13 percent to 363.2 million pounds ($578 million) in the year to June 30.
The club expects it to soar to between 420 million pounds ($669 million) and 430 million pounds ($686 million) in 2013-14. That would push United closer to Real Madrid, the biggest money-maker in world sport, which reported revenue of 520.9 million euros ($695 million) in 2012-13.
United reported a net profit of 17.2 million pounds ($27 million) from 4.5 million pounds ($7 million) the year before, while the cash balance rose by a third to 94.4 million pounds ($151 million).
Despite those healthy cash reserves, United made just one major signing during the summer transfer window, bringing midfielder Marouane Fellaini from Everton for 27.5 million pounds ($43 million) after missing out on more high-profile targets.
United has opened its Premier League title defense with two wins, a draw and a loss to sit three points behind pacesetter Liverpool in fifth place.
“It’s not just a strong squad but a deep one,” executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said on an investor call.
Some fans, however, are still angry with the Glazers for heaping debt onto the club with their 2005 leveraged takeover.
But the gross debt that hit 716.5 million pounds (then $1.1 billion) in 2008-09 stands at 389.2 million pounds ($622 million), having dropped 11 percent in the last year alone. But the cost of serving those liabilities rose to 71 million pounds ($113 million) in the year.
“We are comfortable with the leverage levels where we are,” Woodward told investors.
He said the club delivered on its targets and objectives during its first year listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
“Our commercial business continues to be a very powerful engine of growth enabling the team to continue to be successful,” Woodward said in a statement. “We won our 20th English League title last season and are delighted to have David Moyes lead our football team into a new and exciting chapter.”
Commercial income alone grew by 30 percent during the year to 152.5 million pounds ($244 million) as 20 sponsorship deals , mainly region-specific backers.
United hopes to profit from the appeal of the Red Devils branding in the U.S. where Woodward claims the number of TV viewers watching United is growing 30 to 35 percent each year.
“It’s underpenetrated ...it’s the most developed sports market in the world,” Woodward said, adding: “We don’t want to do deals that are quick and wrong and tie us up.”
The Premier League has been buoyed by new television deals which are set to generate $8.5 billion over the next three seasons.
United received 60.8 million pounds ($97 million) in broadcast revenue from the Premier League last season while winning the title. On the back of new TV deals, Woodward expects a 35 to 38 percent increase for the club this season.
Rob Harris can be followed at www.twitter.com/RobHarris .