Football: United's revenue rises 18% despite league struggles

Manchester United manager David Moyes watches from the touchline during their English Premier League soccer match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in London, on Jan 19, 2014. Manchester United may be struggling to retain the Premier League title bu
Manchester United manager David Moyes watches from the touchline during their English Premier League soccer match against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in London, on Jan 19, 2014. Manchester United may be struggling to retain the Premier League title but their "disappointing" form has yet to have an impact on their commercial performance. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Manchester United may be struggling to retain the Premier League title but their "disappointing" form has yet to have an impact on their commercial performance.

Hours before their match away to title contenders Arsenal, United reported commercial income of 42.3 million pounds (S$88.3 million) - up 18 per cent for the quarter and 30 per cent on the year so far.

In the quarter to Dec 31, United initiated six new sponsorship deals, proof of the English football giants' enduring global commercial appeal.

This was despite a poor run of results under new manager David Moyes that has left United in seventh place, a huge 16 points behind Premier League leaders Chelsea (57 points) and in danger of missing out on a place in next season's European Champions League.

United chief executive Ed Woodward, while welcoming the figures, admitted the club's on-field form was a concern.

"We once again achieved a record revenue quarter with strong contributions from our commercial and broadcasting businesses despite the current league position, which everyone from the team manager down has acknowledged is disappointing," he said.

"We continue to see meaningful opportunities to grow our commercial business and the popularity of football on TV is leading to continued broadcasting revenue growth - all of which bodes well for the long-term stability and financial strength of our business.

"We are also very pleased to have added a world-class player in Juan Mata to our squad, who has already made a positive impact."

Broadcasting revenue for the period climbed to 46.9 million pounds, a rise of 18.7 per cent, due to an increase in revenue from the Premier League domestic and international rights agreements, as well as extra income from the Champions League fixed pool distributions given United won the Premier League title last term.

Staff costs were 51.6 million pounds, an increase of 16.7 per cent, and this was due mainly to new player signings and renegotiated contracts - although Mata's club record 37.1 million pound move was not included as it fell outside the accounting period under review.

Meanwhile, United's gross debt has been reduced by 2.7 per cent to 356.6 million pounds, although the club do have an additional 72 million pounds in reserve which supporters will hope is invested in strengthening the squad.

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