Manchester United see earnings tumble as ticket sales hit by COVID-19 crisis | Business News


Manchester United have seen their earnings slump by nearly a fifth in the first financial quarter as they continued to lose out on ticket sales from fans unable to attend matches due to the coronavirus crisis.

The top flight club said playing matches behind closed doors and cancellation of the pre-season tour as a result of the COVID-19 crisis had hit income, although this was partly offset by higher broadcasting revenue.

The results, which were mistakenly released a day in advance due to an error by the publishers of its filings, showed matchday revenue dived by 92% to £1.7m in the three months to September, compared to the same period last year.

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Image: Executives have backed manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

However, broadcasting revenue leapt by 45% to £47.6m.

It meant overall earnings for the period were down 19.5% to £109m, leading to a loss of £30m.

The coronavirus pandemic has played havoc with the sporting calendar, forcing the suspension of English Premier League fixtures for three months, with fans still unable to attend matches.

Manchester United have urged the government to allow fans back into stadiums, adding they can safely host 23,500 fans at Old Trafford while maintaining social distancing.

It remains uncertain whether fans would be welcomed back in the near future after England imposed a one-month lockdown this month.

Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said: “While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant disruption, we are optimistic that the recovery and normalisation phase is gradually coming into view.

“The club’s resilience and our strong commercial business continue to provide a solid foundation and gives us confidence in our long-term outlook beyond the pandemic, both on and off the pitch.”

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He added: “We recognise that not all football clubs are in as robust of a financial position and that the Premier League has a responsibility to support the wider English football pyramid.

“We will continue to push for this support, both through emergency assistance during the pandemic, and through longer-term reforms to ensure that the success of the Premier League is reinforced for the benefit of the national game as a whole.”

The results come at a time when manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future was questioned after a shock 2-1 defeat to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League last week, but those concerns were eased following a win at Everton.

Woodward added: “On the pitch, while there is still hard work ahead to achieve greater consistency, we remain absolutely committed to the positive path we are on under Ole as the team continues to develop.

“We miss playing in front of our fans and we are working hard together with our governing bodies and relevant authorities to ensure that fans can safely return as soon as possible.”