LONDON – Manchester United are in line to become the first British club to earn at least half a billion pounds in revenue in a single year, even if participation in the lucrative Champions League next season still hangs in the balance.
United head into their final Premier League game at home to Bournemouth on Sunday, in fifth place and two points behind local rivals Manchester City.
Only the top four clubs in the English top flight are guaranteed a place in the elite Champions League and failure to get into the tournament will only add to the pressure on manager Louis van Gaal, whose future with the Old Trafford club has been the subject of intense speculation this season.
But none of that stopped United, who face Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final at Wembley later this month, from announcing a record underlying pre-tax third quarter profits of £44.9 million (R980 430 894) on Friday.
The Premier League side said in a statement that this represented an increase of 76.8 percent, while revenue for the same 2016 fiscal third quarter and nine months ended March 31 had risen to £123.4 million (R2 695 364 824), up 29.9 percent.
One of the best-known brands in world sport, with a huge global fan base, United’s statement added they expect to earn between Â£500-Â£510 million of revenue in 2016.
Commercial revenues rose 37.7 percent to £65.8 million (R1 441 003 199), with total operating expenses up 3.2 percent to of Â£102.2 million compared to the same quarter last year.
United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was pleased with the club’s position both on and off the field, but significantly made no mention of Dutch manager van Gaal in a statement accompanying Friday’s figures.
“The conclusion to this year’s season demonstrates once again why the Premier League is the most popular league in the most popular sport,” he said of a title race won by former 5 000/1 outsiders Leicester City.
“As we reflect on our season, we are delighted by the emergence of yet another crop of exciting young players that demonstrate once again our terrific track record of youth development,” Woodward added.
“We are looking forward to the FA Cup final on May 21 and hopefully winning this special trophy for a record-equalling 12th time.”
Woodward was due to comment in more detail about United’s figures in a conference call at 1.00pm local time Friday.