Champions League absence takes financial toll on Man United

Manchester United have taken a financial hit after last season's abysmal finish, which resulted in the team not making the Champions League. (Reuters)

Manchester United have taken a financial hit after last season's abysmal finish, which resulted in the team not making the Champions League. (Reuters)

English Premier League club Manchester United posted a 10% fall in first quarter revenue as the absence of lucrative Champions League soccer this season took its toll.

United, currently seventh on the Premier League table and still struggling with what has been a dismal transition since Alex Ferguson retired as manager in May 2013, said total revenue fell to £88.7-million in the three months to September 30.

That compared to £98.5-million posted a year ago but was ahead of an analyst consensus forecast of £86-million.

An 8.6% drop in adjusted core earnings to £20.3-million was also ahead of analyst expectations of £14.5-million, helped by a rise in sponsorship money and a lower wage bill.

“While we recognise that the 2014/15 fiscal year financial results will reflect our absence from the Champions League ... we are excited to focus our efforts on the meaningful growth opportunities in sponsorship, digital media and retail and merchandising,” United executive vice-chairperson Ed Woodward said.

Still lucrative
The club’s global appeal, which it says stretches to 659-million followers, continued to prove lucrative, with five sponsorship deals signed in the quarter as well as a world record £750-million kit deal with Adidas.

However, its broadcasting and matchday revenues took a hit, falling 13% and 22% respectively, as the impact of last season’s failure to qualify for the Champions League, Europe’s top club competition, was laid bare. This season is the club’s first without European soccer for over two decades.

United, majority owned by the American Glazer family, reiterated expectations for lower full-year revenue of £385- million to £395-million, and core earnings of £90-million to £95-million.

Under Dutchman Louis van Gaal, who took over as coach for the start of the season after an ill-fated spell for Ferguson’s replacement David Moyes, the club have spent heavily on the likes of Argentine winger Angel di Maria and young English defender Luke Shaw to improve their fortunes.

Progress has been mixed, however, and the 20-times champions are 13 points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea after 11 games, and are out of the League Cup.
– Reuters

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