Manchester United has slumped to a full-year loss of £23m with revenue from broadcasting and ticket sales hit by disruption caused by the pandemic.
The results provide further evidence that even the world’s richest football clubs are struggling because of the crisis, which has forced them to hold matches behind closed doors and pay rebates to broadcasters. Spain’s FC Barcelona reported a €100m pre-tax loss this month.
Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said the company was “carefully managing” resources and that its “top priority” was for fans to return to Old Trafford as soon as possible. He also called for “consistency of approach” in government decisions on the matter.
“People are allowed to sit in an aeroplane for hours, or in a cinema, or even watch football in a cinema, then why are they not allowed inside a stadium environment, which is professionally managed and controlled,” said Mr Woodward. “Why should outdoor, socially-distanced football fans be treated differently?”
The club, which is listed on the New York stock exchange, said revenue in the 12 months to June 30 was £509m, down from £627m in the previous year. It swung to a net loss of £23.2m from a net profit of £18.9m. Net debt has more than doubled to £474.1m and the club’s cash pile shrunk to £51.5m from £307.6m.
In the final quarter of the financial year, revenues plunged 38 per cent to £81.5m, with decreases across commercial, broadcasting and match-day income.
It has not provided revenue guidance for its next financial year, citing the Covid-19 uncertainty.
The club also revealed that it had extended its sponsorship deal with Chevrolet, its main kit sponsor, by six months to the end of 2021 for no additional fee, but it would be paid in sterling rather than dollars over the extended period. The team is still searching for a new shirt sponsor for when the $559m deal ends.
More than £80m of Manchester United’s overall sponsorship income has been deferred, according to the results.
United, which has been owned by the US billionaire Glazer family since a £790m leveraged buyout in 2005, is back in the lucrative Champions League tournament after finishing third in the Premier League last season.
Mounting losses across football have led to debate about the future of the game’s finances, as well as the format of domestic and European competitions.
Manchester United and Liverpool were heavily criticised this month for backing a radical restructuring of English football. The two arch-rivals were accused of trying to win more control of the Premier League in exchange for providing a £250m rescue package to the English Football League, which runs the three divisions below the top tier.
The Premier League rejected the proposal, which had the backing of EFL chairman Rick Parry.
Mr Woodward said on Wednesday that the club was “committed to playing a constructive role in helping the wider football pyramid through this period of adversity, while exploring options for making the English game stronger and more sustainable in the long term”.
Manchester United has failed to add to its tally of 13 Premier League titles or win the Champions League since Alex Ferguson, its most successful manager, retired in 2013.
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