Thursday, January 10, 2008

Success boosts Man Utd finances

Manchester United have moved to the top of the UK's football financial league after reporting record turnover for 2006/07 of £245m ($481m), a 27% rise.

That puts them ahead of the £200.8m reported by Arsenal for last season, but behind Real Madrid of Spain, whose turnover was £263m for the same period.

Pre-tax profits rose 93% to £59.6m, as United won the Premier League.

The club, which says it has 333 million fans worldwide, also reached the FA Cup final and Champions League semi-final.

Those cup runs, during the second year of the Glazer family's ownership, helped to boost media revenues by 35% to £61.5m.

An update on the club's debt and interest repayments - the Glazer family borrowed heavily to buy the club for £790m in 2005 - will be made in the spring when the Glazer company accounts for Red Football are lodged.

Last May the annual interest payment was £62m, and in the autumn a club spokesman said debts continued "to be comfortably serviced by the business".

'Quest for success'

Chief executive David Gill said full houses at Old Trafford, plus the increases in media and sponsorship revenues "combined with team success to produce a substantial financial improvement".

"I am confident that the uplift in the Premier League television deal, together with our new sponsorship sales structure will enable the club to continue to increase its revenues and profitability to provide support to the team's quest for further on-field success," Mr Gill added.

Details of the new sponsorship structure, driven by the recently appointed commercial director Richard Arnold, have not been revealed.

But a spokesman said the club was looking forward to improved financial figures next year - when the results of an improved TV deal will come into effect - on the proviso that there is continued success on the playing field.

Manchester United once again disclosed the total payments made in the year to players' agents - £2.1m in 2006/07 as against £1.8m the previous season.

The club said it was the only one in the Premier League to reveal its payments to agents, and said other top flight teams should follow suit.

Wage payments

The extra seats afforded to Arsenal following its move from Highbury to the Emirates Stadium had been instrumental in the large rise in the club's turnover, as matchday revenues boomed.

At Manchester United matchday revenues were up 30% to £92.6m, reflecting the expansion of Old Trafford to a larger capacity of more than 76,000.

The £245m turnover figure is for its overall business, but Manchester United points out that more than £200m of that figure was for its core football activities.

The club said it had reduced its wages-to-turnover ratio to 43.6%, well within the 50% set by the Glazer family as a long-term aim.

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