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United predict further growth


Manchester United continue to be successful both on and off the pitch

Manchester United continue to be successful both on and off the pitch

Manchester United continue to be successful both on and off the pitch

Manchester United expect their revenue to go soaring towards £430million next year - providing David Moyes can deliver a top three Premier League finish and reaches the last eight in the Champions League.

The aims are only a guide for investors in United on the New York Stock Exchange and there is no suggestion Moyes would come under pressure if he failed to meet them in his debut campaign.

However, United have never finished below third since 1991 and have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League in 12 out of the 17 seasons they have featured in the group stage prior to this season, so it does seem a reasonable guide to their ambition.

And for a club that has just posted a 13.4% rise in turnover to £363.2million for the year ending June 30, 2013, there always has to be something to aim for.

"For fiscal 2014, Manchester United expects revenue to be £420million to £430million," it is stated in their annual report, which was released on Wednesday morning.

"This assumes the team finishes third in the FA Premier League and reaches the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League and the domestic cups."

In truth, a significant portion of this increase will come from the massive new TV contract, which executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward estimates will earn United an increase of "between 35 and 38% on the previous three-year deal."

Evidently though, United's commercial operation is the main area of growth, with a staggering 29.7% rise to £152.5million for the year.

Of this figure, sponsorship revenue alone has gone up 44.1% to £90.9million.

With a massive new shirt deal with US car giant Chevrolet due to be launched at the start of next season, present sponsors Aon already assuming naming rights to United's training ground, training kit and future tours, the lure of the present Premier League champions is clear.

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Little wonder if Nike are to retain their shirt manufacturing deal, they will have to stump up an enormous sum.

"I am reminded of a statement by Rupert Murdoch," said Woodward in a conference call to shareholders.

"There is a reason sports cost a lot. It is the most important content on TV, period."

Whether by accident or design, the Glazer family have ridden through the storm that accompanied their massively controversial leveraged buyout in 2005.

Whilst debt remains enormous by usual standards - £389.2million - it is way below the levels it once was and the Glazers still have large cash reserves, in excess of £50million following the summer arrivals of Marouane Fellaini and Wilfried Zaha.

Still the costs associated with the takeover continue to rise, to around £680million, which those fans who remain implacably opposed to the Glazer ownership believe would have been better invested in either the squad or a further expansion of Old Trafford.

What some knowledgable observers now wonder is whether the Glazers will feel sufficient strength in the business to start taking out large dividend payments.

That would attract attention given the relative difficulty Moyes had in bringing in new faces this summer, even though the club insisted they had no intention of being drawn into an "eight-week panic" this summer.

Woodward confirmed he anticipates United to break the one million barrier for Twitter followers in the immediate future.

More long-term though, it seems the United States - where it is believed United will head on tour next summer, and possibly the one after as well - as the key growth market.

"Last year we spoke about how we would use a scalpel rather than a spade when it came to segmenting our sponsorship opportunities across categories and countries," said Woodward.

"The US market is under-penetrated.

"It is a very big media market, the most developed sports market in the world.

"But we don't want to deals that are quick and wrong, that tie us up and we regret afterwards.

"We believe there has been an inflection point from 2010-11 when interest levels in football have increased.

"In the last three years the number of people watching Manchester United has gone up by between 30 and 35% each year. NBC reported peak viewership for our game against Chelsea last month was the biggest weekday afternoon audience since the Olympics.

"It is moving away from being a niche sport and into the territory of competing with some of the top sports in the country."

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