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United gets set for revenue slump after posting record figures

Manchester United pose for a team photo during the UEFA Europa League group match against FK Astana (by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)

Manchester United has reported year-on-year increases in revenue and operating profit, but the English Premier League club has said it expects the former to fall for the first time in five years due to missing out on Uefa Champions League football.

United today (Tuesday) revealed its financial results for the year ending June 30, 2019, with total revenue standing at £627.1m (€711.3m/$782.8m), an annual record, versus last year’s mark of £589.8m. Broadcasting revenue for the year was £241.2m, an increase of 18.1 per cent over the prior year, primarily due to the new Champions League broadcasting rights agreement.

However, commercial revenue dropped by £700,000 to £275.1m. While sponsorship revenue remained steady at £173m, consistent with the prior year, this reflected lower tour revenue as a result of a shorter summer tour, offset by an increase in underlying sponsorship revenues. Retail, merchandising, apparel product licensing revenue was £102.1m, accounting for the £700,000 fall over the prior year.

United endured a disappointing 2018-19 season on the pitch, with a sixth-place finish in the Premier League resulting in qualification for the Europa League, and the lesser riches on offer when compared to the Champions League.

United cited this fact when stating that for fiscal 2020, the club is expecting total revenues to be in a range of £560m to £580m and total adjusted Ebitda to be in a range of £155m to £165m. This year’s adjusted Ebitda stood at £185.8m.

Ed Woodward, Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman, said: “We remain focused on our plan of rebuilding the team and continuing to strengthen our youth system, in line with the philosophy of the club and the manager. This is reflected in the recent addition of three exciting first team players, key player contract extensions and the talent we have coming through our academy. Everyone at Manchester United is committed to delivering on our primary objective of winning trophies.”

Nevertheless, United, a perennial fixture in football rich lists alongside Barcelona and Real Madrid, faces failing to keep pace with its Spanish LaLiga counterparts. In July, Barcelona reported that it remains on course to hit its target of surpassing the €1bn ($1.1bn) revenue threshold by 2021 after posting record turnover of €990m, although profit slipped year-on-year for the club.

Real Madrid last month registered its second-highest profit in the past two decades, despite marginal increases in revenue amid one of the worst seasons on the pitch in the club’s recent history.

Real’s financial results for the financial year ending June 30, 2019, saw net profit rise 23.1-per-cent year-on-year to €38.4m. Operating revenues for the 2018-19 financial year, without taking into account gains obtained through player transfers, reached €757.3m. Looking forward to the 2019-20 financial year, Real has projected revenue of €822.1m, as well as pre-tax profits of €41.4m.