Debt burden knocks gloss off United's record profits

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The Independent Online

Manchester United have posted the most spectacular profits for any British football club – while at the same time being part of its biggest debt.

Accounts to June 2008 reveal that annual turnover at the club has risen an incredible 22 per cent to £256.2m, underpinning a 7.5 per cent increase in profits to £80.4m. However, Red Football – the umbrella for United and its various offshoots – confirmed a loss of £44.8m, taking their overall debt to £649.4m.

Critics are bound to pounce on the figure as evidence of an unsustainable financial structure, questioning how it is possible for the Glazer family to make a profit if their losses are so high in a season as successful as the last one. Yet Manchester United's owners have never given any impression of being too concerned about the debt mountain itself, the payments for which were restructured two years ago and currently take £45.5m annually out of United's profits.

Instead they prefer to maintain a drive for profits at a club whose overall value is estimated at over £1bn. Whether, in the current financial climate, they can continue to squeeze even more from the United brand is open to doubt.

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