Red army boosts Man United

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The Independent Online
THE MARCH of its merchandising arm has helped Manchester United, the publicly quoted football club, to drive annual taxable profits up by 156 per cent to pounds 10.77m, writes Martin Flanagan.

Martin Edwards, chief executive, said it was possible merchandising sales this year might for the first time outstrip gate receipts, traditionally the club's chief moneyspinner.

In the year to 31 July, merchandising sales - ranging from football kits to videos and magazines - nearly trebled to pounds 14.23m. Turnstile revenue leapt 68 per cent to pounds 17.92m, as United, Premier League champions for the second year running, played regularly to capacity home crowds of 44,000.

This figure benefited from a full season's use of the redeveloped Stretford End at Old Trafford stadium.

Profits from conference and catering, sponsorship and royalties, and television, all advanced - by 67, 30 and 3 per cent respectively.

Stripping out player transfers, profits rose 40 per cent to pounds 11.45m as United made a net deficit of only pounds 675,000 on transfer deals against a near pounds 4m deficit last time.

A final dividend of 14.5p makes a total of 21p (19.5p). United also disclosed it is planning a free issue of four new shares for every one held to make them easier to trade. The shares rose 9p to 694p.

Manchester United is also negotiating to acquire land next to Old Trafford as part of a scheme to increase capacity by 10,000.

(Photograph omitted)