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Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Man Utd: the jewel in football's crown
Inside a Manchester United shop
Man Utd fans have snapped up the club's merchandise
Manchester United have dominated the English Premier League throughout the 1990s and can call upon millions of supporters around the world.

This huge fan base has seen the club become the world's most profitable.

Man U. revenue by source
While some Premier League clubs have struggled to make a profit, Manchester United's fortunes have gone from strength to strength.

Its pre-tax earnings jumped from just 4m in 1993 to 30.5m in 1999.

This astonishing growth can partly be put down to success on the pitch.

Over the past few years, Manchester United has played to capacity crowds, winning a clutch of league titles and cups.

As it has returned to winning ways, the club has been able to command multi-million pound sponsorship deals.

But it is not just a bulging trophy cabinet that has helped transform Manchester United's financial fortunes.

Under Martin Edwards, now retired as chief executive, the club turned itself into a highly profitable brand.

Fans have queued up to buy anything from soap to replica shirts emblazoned with the club logo.

Rocketing sales

The club now earns almost as much from merchandising as it does from gate receipts.

Sales have rocketed and the club has been implementing plans to expand overseas rapidly by opening retail outlets in the Far East.

A restaurant and museum have helped turned boost earnings at the club's ground Old Trafford.

Manchester United stands at the forefront of a footballing revolution that threatens to change the face of the game across Europe.

Takeover bid

In recognition of this, BSkyB attempted to take over the club last year - the bid was blocked by the UK competition authorities.

The club could become an integral part of a new European Super League, where it would play the continent's biggest and best clubs on a regular basis.

BSkyB saw that the money involved could be huge, adding tens of millions of pounds to Manchester United's revenues every year.

And there is pay-per-view, where fans have to stump up money to watch their favourite club on the television.

Competition concerns

An independent Manchester United poses a potential threat to BSkyB's dominance of televising Britain's national sport.

BSkyB paid a huge amount, 647m, for the exclusive right to screen Premiership games for the four years to 2001.

But Manchester United has set up its own television channel, which analysts believe it could use to screen live matches after 2001.

If the club chose to go it alone, BSkyB would lose its football broadcasting monopoly.

See also:

17 Jul 00 | Business
08 May 00 | Business
28 Sep 00 | UK
20 Jun 00 | FA Carling Premiership
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