Page last updated at 16:05 GMT, Thursday, 9 April 2009 17:05 UK

Man Utd parent company makes loss

By Bill Wilson
Business reporter, BBC News

Cristiano Ronaldo
The club enjoyed two major successes in 2007/08 season

Manchester United's parent company, Red Football Joint Venture, has made a pre-tax loss of £44.8m ($65.6m) largely due to interest payments on its debt.

The figures cover the 2007/08 season, when United won the Premier League and Champions League, and take the Red Football's debt from £604m to £649.4m.

Red Football Joint Venture was set up when the Glazer family borrowed heavily to buy the club for £790m in 2005.

Group turnover for the year was £256.2m, an English club record.

It was up from £210m the year before, and operating profit was up £5m on the previous year.

'Global brand'

The football club enjoyed a successful 2007/08 - with television revenues made from the improved Premier league deal and Champions League final run, sell-out games at the 75,000 capacity at Old Trafford, and all its other commercial revenues.

MAN UTD FINANCES 2008
Match-day revenues - £101.5m
Media revenues - £61.5m
Commercial operations - £64m
Transfer profits - £21.8m
Season ticket holders - 63,000

"The turnover is spectacular, which is what you would expect from a season when they won the Premier League and Champions League," said Harry Philp, financial analyst at Hermes Sports Partners.

Match day revenues were up from £92.6m to £101.5m, while media income was up by close to 50%, from £61.5m to £90.7m. Meanwhile, the club's commercial operations generated £64m.

"The company continues to explore new commercial opportunities within the United Kingdom and overseas to further leverage the Manchester United brand," it said in a statement.

The club said it had four elements to increase its financial growth; maintaining playing success, treating fans as customers, leveraging the global brand, and developing club media rights.

Manchester United also made a profit of £21.8m on player transfers.

Sponsorship renewal

During the year, Manchester United also increased its stake in club TV station MUTV, to 66.7% "in order to have greater influence over the future strategy of the channel".

In season 2007/08, it also signed a number of new commercial partners - including Saudi Telecom, Diageo, and Seoul Metropolitan Government - and renewed deals with Budweiser, Travelcare, and GSK.

On a group basis, the debt to the hedge funds is soaking up the profits from the club playing side
Harry Philp, Hermes Sports Partners

Recently shirt sponsor AIG, the insurance firm bailed out by the US government, announced it would not renew the deal when it ran out at the end of the 2009/10 season.

Reports say the firm may be on the verge of a new deal with Prudential, and Mr Philp said that whoever the club signs up with, they will match or improve on the £56m AIG package.

"They will be able to negotiate at least at the level of the AIG deal," he said.

The club also said that for season 2008/09 it had 63,000 season ticket holders, which includes executive box supporters.

Borrowings

However, it is the level of debt that will be of concern to some United fans.

Red Football Joint Venture made interest payments of £68.8m on total loans of £692m in 2007-08.

The senior debt of £511.6m is secured against the club and its assets.

Old Trafford Stadium
Sell-out games at Old Trafford have filled football club coffers

When the Glazers borrowed in 2005 to take over the club, some £152m was loaned originally by hedge funds at a 14.25% interest rate. These "payment in kind" loans are now worth £175.5m and are secured against the Glazer family equity.

"On a group basis, the debt to the hedge funds is soaking up the profits from the club playing side," said Mr Philp.

"The intention would have been to try and renegotiate those loans, but the current financial circumstances have made that difficult.

"That debt is a ticking time bomb that they have to pay off."



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