Revenue for English soccer titan Manchester United fell almost 20% its first quarter to 109 million British pounds, or $143 million dollars at today’s exchange rate. Game day revenue was destroyed by the pandemic, falling 92%, though most—but not all—of that drop was offset by broadcast TV revenue, which rose 45%.
“While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant disruption, we are optimistic that the recovery and normalization phrase is gradually coming into view,” said club executive vice chairman Ed Woodward in the filing. “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.”
Commercial revenue, which includes sponsorship monies, fell 26% to $78.3 million. Broadcast revenue was $62.4 million, helped by the addition of five games in the latest quarter that normally would have been played in the company’s fourth quarter of a regular season. Match day sales were $2.2 million in the period that ended in September, a far cry from $29 million in 2019’s first quarter. The results led the Premier League Club to a net loss of $39.7 million for the period, compared to a profit of $1.4 million last year. Team debt grew during the quarter from $504 million to almost $578 million. Given the uncertainty with the pandemic, the club declined to provide any financial estimates for the current quarter and beyond.
The team filed its first quarter earnings midday Thursday, rather than Friday morning as originally scheduled. Initial market reaction seemed fine with the results, as ManU shares trading in New York gained 13 cents in the minutes following the earnings release. They were down on the day, however, and are down about 25% from the start of 2020.
Also in the filing, Woodward expressed support for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær despite the team’s uncharacteristic 14th place in the Premier League: “[W]hile there is still hard work ahead to achieve greater consistency, we remain absolutely committed to the positive path we are under Ole.”