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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 19:26 GMT 20:26 UK
Man Utd profits jump
Sir Alex Ferguson
Will there be more transfer cash for Sir Alex?
Premiership football champions Manchester United have posted a 22% rise in profits.

The club, currently third in the Premiership and the subject of persistent takeover speculation, reported pre-tax profits for the year to 31 July of 39.3m, slightly lower than forecasts of around 43m.

"These results reflect the significant success that Manchester United has achieved both on and off the field," said new chief executive David Gill.

In the first set of financial results since the departure of chief executive Peter Kenyon for Premiership rival Chelsea, United said it had been boosted by its many sponsorship deals.

Those include the first full year of its 13-year 303m deal with Nike and the hosting of last year's European Champions League final.

Higher media revenues and a successful year on the pitch, including winning the 2002/03 Premiership, reaching the quarter final of the European Champions League and the final of the League Cup also lifted profits.

Bucking the trend

Mr Gill added: "Looking ahead, we will maintain our focus on achieving playing success while delivering continued strong performances from our commercial operations."

United bucked the general downturn in football's finances, with most English clubs running at a loss, despite gains from player disposals down 4.5m from last year.

Manchester United logo
The closely-watched player trading profit was 12.9m, down from 17.4m in 2002.

The major element of this was the 15.9m the club received for England captain David Beckham from Real Madrid.

This profit, together with additional receipts for the sale of Andrew Cole and Dwight Yorke to Blackburn, helped offset the 4.5m loss on the sale of Juan Sebastian Veron to Chelsea.

And, although wage costs rose by 12%, they still accounted for less than half the club's turnover, which rose 18% to 173m.

Uniquely among football clubs Manchester United ended the year with a debt free balance sheet.

Bid rumours

Mr Gill added: "Looking ahead, we will maintain our focus on achieving playing success while delivering continued strong performances from our commercial operations."

Shares in the club have almost doubled this year on bid speculation.

The club has played down recent reports that three foreign billionaires may launch bids to buy it.

The reports claimed three wealthy potential buyers had separately sounded out City advisors over whether a takeover bid would be successful.

The would-be buyers have not been identified, but are thought to include a Russian, a European, and a businessman of Middle Eastern origin.

Shares in the club closed down 4p at 196p on Tuesday.

Manchester United Chief Executive David Gill
"We would like Sir Alex to stay with us"

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