Man Utd hit by falling revenues and rising wage bill

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The Independent Online

Manchester United described the interest in the club shown by the US entrepreneur Malcolm Glazer as "disruptive" yesterday as it revealed a 57 per cent fall in interim pre-tax profits to £11.9m.

Manchester United described the interest in the club shown by the US entrepreneur Malcolm Glazer as "disruptive" yesterday as it revealed a 57 per cent fall in interim pre-tax profits to £11.9m.

Mr Glazer, who has completed due diligence on United's finances, will wait until after the Easter weekend before proceeding with his plans to bid for the club he has been stalking for nearly two years.

Mr Glazer, the owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers American football team, will have been fully prepared for yesterday's results from the club. These revealed reduced profits as wages and other operating expenses - including £500,00 in costs connected to the Glazer bid interest - rose while media revenues fell in the six months to 31 January.

The two investment banks advising Man Utd and Mr Glazer - Cazenove and NM Rothschild respectively - have agreed to put on hold any further detailed engagement over Mr Glazer's acquisition plans until after Easter because of diary commitments. Man Utd warned its costs on advisers' fees would rise "significantly" if the sports tycoon proceeded with a formal offer.

The Easter lull will allow Man Utd shareholders, including supporters, to reflect on the half-year results which showed how exposed even the commercially most sound football clubs are to the vagaries of on-field form and other events out of their control.

At its last set of full-year results, the club highlighted the fact that the phasing of payments in the new three-year Premier League broadcasting contract, which began at the start of this season, would result in a current year like-for-like drop of £8m, £3.7m of which fell in the first half.

Finishing third in the Premier League last season cost the club a further £5.8m in reduced earnings from the Champions League. Included in this was the fact that all four English clubs proceeded to the knockout phase of the tournament, reducing Man Utd's performance-based share of the competition's English television pool.

Overall media revenues were down 28 per cent to £24.2m. This was partially offset by a 22 per cent increase in matchday revenues to £44.3m.

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