The Financials of Manchester United

9 minute read · Issue Number 66 · April 30th, 2021

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We’ve been all witnesses to the buzz surrounding the European Super League.

In a nutshell, the biggest football clubs in Europe suggested it because most of them are struggling financially:

I chose to take a deeper look at Manchester United and its numbers.

Here’s what I found:

The Financials of Manchester United

Similar to regular companies — sports organizations need money to finance their operations. The three types of ownership are public, private, or community-owned.

If you google “Manchester United Financial Statements 2020,” you can find their latest financial reports since it’s a publicly-traded company.

ManU Stock Price

Besides value, stock price reflects the sentiment and expectation of the market, also known as the balance between demand and supply. While the stock price reflects this, we need to dig into risks and statements to understand the current financial position of ManU.


All companies disclose the most relevant risks in their statements.

ManU disclosed the following as some of their most relevant risks for their operations:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had and is expected to continue to have a material impact on our business, results of operations, financial position, and cash flows.

  • European competitions cannot be relied upon as a source of income.

  • Negotiation and pricing of critical media contracts are outside of our control, and those contracts may change in the future.

Keep those in mind for what comes next.

Profit or Loss?

In 2020, Manchester reported a loss of 23 million pounds (before adjustments). This number is the first thing I like to look for because it gives us a glimpse of how a company has performed over time.

Are they making or losing money?

ManU had a significant drop in revenue because of matchday and broadcasting incomes. The reasons?

  1. Covid (i.e., no tickets sold)

  2. Failure to participate in the UEFA Champions League

ManU lost a lot of money in 2020, and their strategy can explain a bit more why.


Manchester United explains in their financial statements that to increase revenue and profitability, they invest heavily in the facilities for the fans. (Utilization rate? Close to zero)

“Prior to the postponement due to COVID-19, and associated government restrictions during the 2019/20 season, our 23 home games were attended by a cumulative audience of over 1.6 million (with our remaining games played behind closed doors).”

All competitions were suspended in mid-March 2020, and matches resumed play in June 2020 with no fans.

Before COVID, Man U averaged over 99% of attendance capacity for Premier League matches for 22 years.

Spending heavily on things that don’t pay off is a bad investment by definition.

The Bottom Line

ManU discloses their earnings up until June 30th every year, therefore. We may not have a complete picture of how bad this pandemic was for them.

Nevertheless, if teams had to come up with a whacky idea such as the European Super League, it may be because things are worse than we thought.

As of now, the chance of ESL happening is close to zero. However, these teams are struggling financially and are desperate to find solutions for it.

🎙 Halftime Snack of the Week

What is the European Super League?

For this Halftime Snack, I invited Robert Gevertz —former guest of the show— to talk about the European Super League.

Robert is a sports consultant from the UK who worked with Manchester City, Sky Sports, and other relevant brands in the industry.

  • What is the ESL?

  • How did we end up here?

  • Problems & potential solutions

Check out the transcript here.

Listen on Apple | Spotify | Google.


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Until next week,

Ronen Ainbinder

Twitter: @Ronenain
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