A combination of Manchester United’s global fame and the Premier League’s allure to broadcasters mean United can make money regardless of results on the pitch, the club’s vice-chairman Ed Woodward has claimed.
During United’s quarterly conference call with shareholders, Woodward was asked if the improved performance in the Premier League this season had played a part in another bumper set of financial numbers for the world’s richest club.
Woodward replied: “Playing performance doesn’t really have a meaningful impact on what we can do on the commercial side of the business.”
While his “very simple and candid” answer might raise some eyebrows among a fanbase not used to trailing their local rivals Manchester City by 19 points, the numbers suggest Woodward is right.
He also underlined the vitality of the club’s various media ventures, with MUTV subscriptions up, the club app top of the charts in 36 countries, a revamped website on the way and YouTube’s fastest growing sports team channel.
“After the first week it went past the Dallas Cowboys and after the second it overtook the New York Yankees — it’s bigger than any U.S. sports team’s channel,” boasted Woodward to his largely American audience.
Asked for an update on the Premier League’s sale of the UK broadcast rights for 2019-22, Woodward reminded the investors that five of the seven packages had been sold, with two more packages of 20 games a season each still to go because they did not reach their list price in February’s auction.
Woodward admitted that not only was there “no update” on their sale but the indication was that the total revenue from all seven packages was likely to be a “slight reduction” on the £5.1 billion achieved in 2015 for the current three-year deal.
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