Manchester United have announced an 18 per cent fall in profits over the first half of 2019/20, with revenues down massively due in large part to the club’s absence from the Uefa Champions League.
The Red Devils posted an operating profit of £47.5m in the six months ending 31 December 2019 compared to a figure of £57.9m over the same period in 2018/19. The club’s net debt also increased by £73.6m to £391.3m over the course of 12 months.
In the announcement of their financial report for the second quarter, the club revealed a £40.2m drop in revenue, with broadcasting revenue having dropped by £39m (from £103.7m to £63.4m) year-on-year due to the lack of Champions League football.
Having finished in sixth place in the Premier League in 2018/19 United missed out on participation in the flagship European event, with their entry into the less glamorous Europa League resulting in reduced income which the club had predicted ahead of the quarterly results.
United’s chief financial officer, Cliff Baty, told investors on Tuesday after the report’s release, “As previously highlighted, the second quarter is where we see the biggest year-on-year impact from the reduction in Uefa broadcast revenues, due to five of the six group matches taking place in this quarter.”
Despite the downturn in both broadcasting and matchday revenue, executive vice-chair Ed Woodward insisted, “We are pushing for a strong finish in the Premier League, the Europa League and the FA Cup as we enter the final third of the season.
“We have continued to make progress on our squad rebuild, with many changes in terms of players that we have brought in and players that have come through our Academy; the foundation for delivering the long-term success that we are all working towards is in place as we implement our plan and our footballing vision with Ole.”
He told investors that, “The number one priority is winning trophies with the team, playing entertaining and attacking football.
“Despite being linked to 111 players in January, our acquisition of just one of them, Bruno Fernandes, is an important step in that direction, demonstrating our commitment to adding experienced, world-class recruits to the exciting crop of academy graduates that are at the heart of this developing team. We will take the same planned, disciplined approach this summer.
“In summary, while we still have much to do, we are progressing with confidence in the right direction.”
Group managing director Richard Arnold took the opportunity to underline United’s pull on social media, boasting of the 300,000 Twitter mentions of Bruno Fernandes’ signing during the January window. He added that Odion Ighalo was the top trending item on Twitter on deadline day despite it coinciding with the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union and Donald Trump’s impeachment hearing in the United States.
United remain hopeful of returning to the Champions League next season, with Sunday’s 3-0 win over Watford having taken them up to fifth in the Premier League. Due to Manchester City’s impending two-year ban from the competition, a top-five finish would be enough for United to qualify for the Champions League.
However, Woodward would not be pushed on City’s individual case, although he did say that he was satisfied with the way that the Financial Fair Play laws are being administered.
“As you predicted, I am not going to comment on City or any other clubs relating to those events,” he explained to one inquisitor. “I go to a lot of Uefa meetings and I see a strong commitment from Uefa to ensure that Financial Fair Play continues to deliver the benefits that it clearly has in the industry. I think it is beneficial overall.”