Sports

Manchester United debt increases by almost $181M in 2019

Debt is 55% increase over last year

(CNN) - If you thought the situation for Manchester United on the pitch was troubling, fans looking for consolation in the club's financial situation may want to look away now.

While rivals Manchester City showed record revenues this year of $692.4 million, the 11th consecutive year of growth under the ownership of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, United's net debt has increased by almost $181 million in their latest financial report -- a 55.5% increase on last year.

United's big spending blowout in the summer on defenders Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka and forward Daniel James are considered to be a contributing factor.

The debt level increase from $319.8 million to $497.4 million will increase scrutiny on club owners, the Glazer family, and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, with United currently languishing in seventh place in England's top tier.

Since taking control of United, the Glazers have reportedly cost the club nearly $1.3 billion in interest.

After dominating English football for more than 20 years around the turn of the century, United currently has less than half the points tally of fierce rivals Liverpool, who top the English Premier League.

In 2018, Woodward reportedly claimed the club could make money regardless of performances and results on the pitch.

But this report demonstrates that performances on the pitch are seemingly impacting revenues.

The club had a $12.9 million drop in broadcasting revenue -- primarily caused by failure to qualify for the Champions League -- compared with the same period in 2018.

However, it's not all bleak reading for Manchester United. The club saw a small total revenue increase to $175.1 million for the first quarter 2019/2020.

Football finance expert, Kieran Maguire, who teaches as the University of Liverpool, said the findings were "significant" but not entirely "worrying" for the club the size of Manchester United.

He said the debt was likely to have been caused by the heavy push in recruitment since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club as manager. David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho followed Ferguson, before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed.

"When Sir Alex Ferguson left the club in 2013, Manchester United owed $43.9 million to other clubs. In 2018, it was $333.7 million, which is a staggering rise," Maguire told CNN Sport.

"So many managers have come and gone, all bringing in different ideals and trying to sign different players ... the club supported these managers and spent an awful lot of money on credit," he continued.

A string of relatively unsuccessful managers have brought in a string of relatively unsuccessful players (with not such a relatively low price tag), according to Maguire.

"The likes of Alexis Sánchez, Ángel Di María, and to some extent Paul Pogba ... who all cost a lot of money but haven't really delivered," added Maguire.

Maguire says failure to qualify for the Champions League potentially cost United up to $77.6 million this year.

Although the financial figures will not be deeply concerning for a club like Man United now, Maguire thinks similar results four or five years down the line could be more problematic.

"If I was a Man United fan right now, I wouldn't be worried at all. The club still makes a whole lot of money and they sell out Old Trafford each week."

However, he does say the gap in generating income between Manchester United and rivals Manchester City and Liverpool is "narrowing."


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