Manchester United Doing Fine with No Fans

    • Manchester United has weathered the pandemic well, despite a precipitous drop in game revenue.
    • The soccer club had a slight uptick in revenue in the last quarter of 2020.

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If you were only looking at Manchester United’s finances, you might not have noticed there was anything different over the last year. 

The English soccer club has weathered the pandemic better than most. Revenues in the final quarter of 2020 were up 2.6% compared to the same period in 2019, despite not having live fans at games at any point during the quarter. Gate and concession losses were counterbalanced by 68% growth in its broadcasting revenue, which rose to $150.2 million.

But not everything has been easy for the club. Game revenues plummeted 95.5% to $2.1 million on the quarter, down from $45.3 million the previous year. It also added $89.2 million to its net debt, prompting it to draw $83.2 million from an available credit line of $277.3 million.

Man U took a hit on its shirt sponsorships, signing a five-year deal with technology company TeamViewer for $65.2 million a year, down from its previous nine-year contract with Chevrolet, which reeled in $88.8 million annually. 

Despite that drop in income, the TeamViewer deal is still the largest standalone deal in the Premier League and could still be augmented by a new automobile sponsorship. 

Still, as the second-place Premier League club looks forward to live fans returning, it remains enormously valuable. Avram Glazer, whose family collectively owns 78% of Manchester United (and a majority stake in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), plans to sell 3.1% of the club’s shares, which at current prices will net him over $100 million.