Ronaldo sale keeps United out of the red

ONLY the world record sale of superstar winger Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid helped Manchester United avoid a £31.8m loss last year.

United, ranked second only to Real Madrid in the most recent annual football money league compiled by analysts Deloitte, yesterday announced a pre-tax profit of £48.2m for the year ending 30 June 2009.

Contributing to that figure was an increase in turnover from £256.2m in the previous year to £278.5m, which was in turn boosted by leaps in matchday, media and commercial revenues.

But owing to the Premier League champions’ interest payments on a £700m debt burden, they only finished in the black because they offloaded Ronaldo for £80m to free-spending Spanish giants Real in July.

Publication of United’s figures came as the club’s owners, the American Glazer family, confirmed they are to launch a £500m bond issue in order to refinance the bulk of the club’s debt.

“Manchester United today announced that it will be seeking to raise approximately £500m aggregate principal amount from an offering of senior secured notes due 2017,” a club statement read.

“The notes, whose proceeds will be used to refinance existing debt secured against the club, will be issued by MU Finance plc.”

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted that his reluctance to spend the Ronaldo income was due to an inflated market, but the club’s accounts will fuel suspicion that purse-strings have been tightened at Old Trafford.

Ferguson spent only around £20m in the summer on Wigan’s Antonio Valencia, Bordeaux’s Gabriel Obertan and Newcastle’s Michael Owen, and last month cancelled a £9m deal to sign Partizan Belgrade’s Adem Ljajic.