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Man United Faces Financial Struggles After Worst Premier League Season

  • The Premier League club sees its losses soar and revenues fall amid ongoing on-field issues.
  • Fenway Sports Group closes in on an acquisition of a French soccer club.
Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

Manchester United’s worst Premier League season since England’s top flight of men’s pro soccer reorganized in 1992 has now been followed by a meager quarterly earnings report, spotlighting the ongoing issues around the embattled organization.

The club said Wednesday it posted an operating loss of $85 million for the three months ending March 31, soaring exponentially beyond the comparable $6 million loss for the same period a year ago. The net loss similarly rose to $91.7 million from last year’s $7.2 million loss in the fiscal third quarter. Revenues, not surprisingly, lagged by 20% to $175.5 million.  

Pitch Pains

The financial period in question does not account for the end of the 2023–24 season, one in which Manchester United finished in eighth place, 31 standings points off the lead, and the club’s lowest placement since the Premier League was formed 32 years ago. 

But the fallout from the club’s issues has already started, and may soon intensify, just months after British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe acquired control over team operations. Among the recent developments for Manchester United:

  • The club formally hired Dan Ashworth as sporting director July 1, following an extended negotiation, with the former Newcastle United leader succeeding prior football director John Murtough.
  • Two days later, Manchester United announced it would be starting a round of staff cuts in which about 250 positions would be eliminated. The move closely followed the end of remote-based work at the club.
  • The ongoing financial issues now raise the possibility of Manchester United falling into violation of the Premier League’s profitability and sustainability rules (PSR). The provisions allow for a $135 million total loss over three years, provided $115 million of that is backed by solid owner funding. Manchester United has lost nearly $350 million in the most recent PSR cycle, but a series of deductions will be made to account for spending on areas such as women’s soccer, youth development, community efforts, and infrastructure.

There are still some signs of hope, however, for Manchester United. The club is forecasting record revenue of about $847 million for the entirety of its fiscal 2024. 

FSG Potentially Strikes Again

Fenway Sports Group, led by John Henry, is in active negotiations to acquire French soccer club Bordeaux. The parent organization of MLB’s Red Sox, the Premier League’s Liverpool, NHL’s Penguins, among other assets, and the lead entity in PGA Tour partner Strategic Sports Group, FSG would be advancing a growing trend of American entities acquiring European soccer clubs—particularly at lower levels—a movement it helped start.

Bordeaux, despite claiming six prior Ligue 1 titles, has more recently fallen on harder times, getting relegated after the 2021–22 season after finishing in last place. The team has competed for the last two years in Ligue 2. 

“We are working, hand in hand with them, as part of the continuation of negotiations and due diligence,” Bordeaux said in a statement about the talks with FSG. 

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