Football: United book room to expand

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The Independent Online
MANCHESTER UNITED yesterday unveiled their latest plans to cash in on their famous brand name. They have formed a joint venture to build a new 110-bedroom three-star hotel next to their Old Trafford ground.

Martin Edwards, United's chief executive, also said the club hope to expand Old Trafford, already the largest ground in the Premiership, well beyond its 55,000 capacity.

As Sharp signed a two-year deal, worth more than pounds 6m, to continue its shirt sponsorship, United announced an 11 per cent rise in profits before transfer fees to pounds 17.5m for the six months to January. The increase in earnings comes despite a pounds 1.5m rise in players' wages due to new contracts for players such as Andy Cole, and a slump in replica shirt sales. However the cost of signing Henning Berg for pounds 5.5m from Blackburn Rovers meant pre-tax profits fell by nearly a quarter to pounds 14.9m.

Some of those profits will be spent on new seven-year contracts for the Neville brothers, while discussions with David Beckham, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt are ongoing. United are also launching their own TV channel, MUTV, in partnership with BSkyB and Granada.