Manchester United reported an 18% increase for its 2021-22 full-year revenue to £583 million, or $776 million, based on average exchange rates during the 12 months. The increase was fueled by fans’ return to Old Trafford following a pair of COVID-19-impacted seasons.
The financial results come on the heels of continued fan protests over the Glazer family’s team ownership and potential buyers circling the iconic franchise.
“Our club’s core mission is to win football matches and entertain our fans,” Richard Arnold, Manchester United CEO, said in a statement announcing the financial results. “Ultimately, we know that the strength of Manchester United rests on the passion and loyalty of our fans, which is why we have made fan engagement a strategic priority. While there is a lot more work to do, everyone at the club is aligned on a clear strategy to deliver sustained success on the pitch and a sustainable economic model off it, to the mutual benefit of fans, shareholders, and other stakeholders.”
The club posted an operating loss of $116 million, and net debt rose to $627 million, a constant pain for Red Devils fans still scarred by the Glazer’s leveraged buyout of the team in 2005. Employee expenses—mainly player salaries—rose 19% to $511 million.
“Our results have been adversely affected by the absence of a summer tour in July 2021, material exceptional and increased utility costs, and the impact of the weakening of sterling on our non-cash finance costs,” Cliff Batty, Manchester United CFO, said. The British pound is off 18% versus the U.S. dollar over the past year.
Matchday revenue—which was $147 million, up from $9 million in 2020-21—drove the overall revenue increase, as fans were shut out of Old Trafford until the final game of the prior season. Commercial revenue, composed of sponsorships and merchandise, rose 11% to $343 million, thanks to new sponsor agreements and the reopening of the team’s Megastore retail outlet. Broadcast revenue of $286 million was off 16%, due to fewer games and the team’s poor finish in the EPL.
Last season, Manchester United posted its worst point total since the launch of the Premier League in 1992, and this season’s campaign started disastrously with a pair of losses to clubs at the bottom of the table. But United has rebounded to win four straight matches and currently sits in fifth place early in the EPL season under new manager Erik ten Hag.
Total revenue trails the record £627 million for the 2018-19 fiscal year. It dropped to £509 million in 2020 and again to £494 million, with COVID-19 impacting results.
For years, Manchester United had the highest revenue of any sports team in the world, but it has fallen behind a handful of global soccer clubs, including Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. In the U.S., the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees and Golden State Warriors all earn more before revenue sharing.
Manchester United projects total revenues to be in a range of £580 million to £600 million for 2022-23, as it sits out Champions League play following its sixth place Premier League finish during the 2021-22 season.
Man United ranked first in Sportico’s 2021 Premier League valuations at $4.65 billion, but its stock price trades at a deep discount to the private valuation with an enterprise value of $2.3 billion.
The stock is down 32% over the last 12 months.