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United loss maker

The company which owns Manchester United made a pre-tax loss of £44.8m in the year to June 30, 2008, according to new accounts released today.

Turnover at Red Football Joint Venture Ltd, the parent company controlled by owners the Glazer family, rose 21 per cent to £257.1m compared with £212.2m in the previous year.

Net debt, however increased to £649.4m from £606.6m. Operating profit was £80.4m, up from £75.4m last time but the bottom line was dragged down by interest payments of £68.8m, down from £81.1m in the previous year and a £35.2m goodwill write down.

The pre-tax loss was down on the previous year’s £62.6m. Net cash inflows, a vital measure if debt is to be paid down, rose only slightly to £88.2m from £87.6m previously.

Pre-tax profit at Manchester United Ltd, the operating company which runs the club, increased to £66.4m from £59.6m, but this does not take into account the finance costs borne by Red Football as the group company.

The highest paid director received a total package of £1,739,000 compared with £1,484,000 previously, including a £188,000 pension payment.

Turnover was helped by a 50 per cent increase in money from television rights to £90.7m. Match day revenues were £101.5m compared to £95.5m in the previous year and other commercial revenues were up 14 per cent at £64m.

Staff costs rose nearly 30 per cent to £121m with 68 players on the books, five more than last year. Amortisation of transfer fees cost the club £35.4m but the club reported a £21.8m gain from selling players.

The company said it had doubled its stake in MUTV during the year to 66.7 per cent, buying out a third stake from partner ITV for £2.6m in order to obtain a "greater influence over the future strategy of the channel". The Red Football JV accounts also reveal that the TV channel has lost a total of £2.5m between September 30, 2006 and June 30, 2008. MUTV lost £1.43m in the nine months to June 2007 and a further £342,000 in June to November. From November 2007 to last June it lost £761,000 on turnover of £4.15m.

The accounts also reveal that Red Football paid £11.6m to acquire the Manchester International Freight Terminal which stands on a 28 acre site next to Old Trafford. It produces a rent roll of just under £1m per annum.

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