Manchester United will become first British club to break the £300 million turnover barrier

11 February 2009 10:48
The club are expected to publish their financial performance for last season some time in the next month, but The Daily Telegraph understands that the accounts will reveal a rise in turnover of about 20 per cent.

United's group turnover for the season is £257.1 million, but when the proceeds from their unique licensing agreement with Nike are added it takes the gross figure through the £300 million mark. Gross turnover last year was £245 million.

Under the terms of a 13-year deal struck with the American sportswear manufacturer, United receive a guaranteed annual fee of about £23 million as well as a share of revenue over an agreed level.

The leap in revenue will be sufficient to consolidate United's position as the richest club in the Premier League, though figures released yesterday placed them second behind Real Madrid in the European rich list based on the Manchester club's lower group turnover figure.

The leap in turnover reflects United's success in winning the Champions League and Premier League in 2008, as well as the impact of the first year of the new domestic television deal, which brought in just under £50 million.

While the rise in turnover is striking, supporters will be looking for evidence that the club remain profitable, and can continue to service interest on acquisition loans taken out by the Glazer family as well as funding investment in new players.

Last year the club paid off £42 million of the £81 million due in interest payments. The club's debts are divided between a £515 million "senior" loan repayable at a rate pegged to the inter-bank rate, and a payment-in-kind facility provided by a consortium of hedge-funds that is effectively an equity stake in the club.

Interest on this PIK loan, payable at 14.25 per cent, is rolled up and added to the loan each year, so last year's declared figure of £152 million can be expected to grow to about £173 million. As a result the club's total debts of £667 million can be expected to rise.

United's strong financial performance has been matched by the other English clubs that appear in the European rich list compiled by accountants Deloitte, with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City all showing increases in revenue.

Chelsea's revenue of £212.9 million is enough to place them fifth on the list, behind Barcelona (3rd, £244.4 million) and Bayern Munich (4th, 233.8 million) and is up 11 per cent from £192 million in 2007, largely thanks to the impact of their run to the Champions League final and the new Premier League television deal.

Arsenal sit sixth in the European table with £209.3 million, while Liverpool lie seventh with turnover of £167 million for 2008, up from £134 million in 2007.

The 25 per cent increase in turnover at Anfield will be particularly welcome to the club's American owners as they attempt to sell the club ahead of July's refinancing deadline with RBS.

By demonstrating that the club have the ability to expand their revenue streams they will hope to attract a buyer. Should they fail the increased income should at least give them the ability to service the interest on their £350 million acquisition loan. Whether it also provides sufficient income to meet Rafael Benitez's demands in the transfer market remains to be seen.

Three other English clubs are in the European top 20, with Spurs 14th having generated £115 million, Newcastle 17th (£100 million) and Manchester City, notionally the richest club in the world 20th having turned over £82.3 million, a 43 per cent increase on the figure for 2007.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid have asked Spain's largest bank for a £60 million loan to help pay a world-record transfer fee for Cristiano Ronaldo.

The club have requested a loan from Santander, the Spanish banking giant who own Abbey, but would have to find the funds for the remainder of the fee themselves.

Landing the Manchester United player, who Real have pursued for two years, would probably cost at least £100 million, but the Spanish side's credit limit cannot exceed 20 per cent of their gate receipts.

United have time and again dismissed reports they have agreed to allow Ronaldo to seal his dream move this summer and are likely to see the latest claims, as broadcast on Spanish radio station Cadena SER, as another attempt by Madrid's media to force their hand.

Sir Alex Ferguson stated after last summer's on-off saga that he would not give Madrid "a virus" and reports he signed a note promising Ronaldo the transfer this summer are thought to be wide of the mark.

But Ferguson's irritation with Madrid's media posturing is a sign that he knows that ultimately, should the player so desire, the Spanish side will get their man.

The likely return of Florentino Perez, the building magnate behind the galactico era, as Bernabeu president in the summer could herald a renewed offensive. For a man who took Luis Figo from Barcelona to Madrid, landing Ronaldo would be a comparatively simple affair.

Ronaldo has been equivocal on his future ever since the summer but it is well known he would like, one day, to play for Madrid. His family would favour such a move and the likes of Pepe, his Portuguese international team-mate, and his close friend Gabriel Heinze have both been deputised by the Spanish side to try to unsettle the player.

The top 10

Deloitte Football Money League - 2007/08 revenue (previous year in brackets)

1. (1) Real Madrid £289.6m2. (2) Man United £257.1m3. (3) Barcelona £244.4m4. (7) Bayern Munich £233.8m5. (4) Chelsea £212.9m6. (5) Arsenal £209.3m7. (8) Liverpool £167.0m8. (6) AC Milan £165.8m9. (11) AS Roma £138.9m10. (9) Inter Milan £136.9m

Source: Telegraph