Reds’ warning over earnings

FOOTBALL giant Manchester United saw its revenues rise to a record level in 2014, but poor results on the pitch are likely to cut earnings by nearly £50m in 2015, the club warned yesterday.

The club revealed its seventh place finish last season and subsequent lack of European football would hit its finances, as the club now expected revenue for next year to fall from a record £433m in 2014 to between £385m and £395m in 2015.

Adding to pressure on new manager Louis Van Gaal to match financial performance with a return to form on the pitch, the club revealed yesterday its 2015 estimates relied on a top three finish in the Premiership.

United chief executive Ed Woodward told investors on a conference call yesterday: “We assume a third place finish in our budgets.”

Despite poor on-pitch performances last season, the club saw its total revenues rise in the 2014 financial year to a record £433.2m, up almost 20 per cent on 2013. This was driven by a near 25 per cent rise in commercial revenue to a record £189.3m.

This was supported by a big rise in sponsorship revenue in particular, up to £135.8m, a 50 per cent increase.

The club also completed a £750m 10-year kit manufacturer sponsorship deal with Adidas, the largest such deal in sports worldwide.

Broadcasting revenues also rose 33 per cent to £135.8m, boosted by new television football rights agreements.

UNITED FINANCE ALCHEMIST ED WOODWARD

Essex born Ed Woodward, 42, may keep his hometown club Chelmsford City FC close to his heart, but he has been in the big league himself at Manchester United for nearly 10 years.

After attending Brentwood School he completed a physics degree at Bristol University in 1993, and qualified as a chartered accountant in 1996. Woodward’s involvement with Manchester United began in 2005 when he joined the club after advising the billionaire Glazer family during their takeover.

Seen as a key ally of the Glazers, Woodward has bought to the club his experience at PwC between 1993 and 1999, and JP Morgan between 1999 and 2005. In 2007 he took over control of Manchester United's commercial and media operations, and as executive vice chairman has led the club's overall financial business plan.

In 2013 Woodward took over from David Gill as Manchester United chief executive, including taking on responsibility for transfer policy. With the club in a state of flux with new manager David Moyes, fans’ doubts rose early as the club missed numerous summer transfer targets and made just one signing in the summer transfer window.

A terrible season followed that saw Manchester United finish seventh and Moyes sacked. With the club's financial strength threatened by poor results on the pitch, Woodward swung into action this summer and has given new manager Louis Van Gaal massive backing, with over £150m spent on new signings this summer.