May 15 - Top soccer club Manchester United announces third quarter results - and possibly a new manager. After failing to qualify for any top European competitions Ivor Bennett looks at whether the club has lost some of its financial clout.
Crisis? What crisis? When it comes to business, it seems Manchester United still know how to win. Third quarter revenues rose to a record 115 million pounds, up 26 percent on last year's. Despite the poor form on the pitch, the club clearly still has considerable commercial clout. Two new sponsorship deals - one of them global - contributing 30 million pounds to the pot. The other major money-spinner was broadcasting rights. 7th place would normally put a dent in TV revenues, but this year they're more lucrative than ever. A new Premier League rights deal saw Man U scoop nearly 90 million pounds for the season - nearly 50 percent more than their prize for finishing first last year. But what about the lack of Champions League football? Football finance expert Daniel Geey. SOUNDBITE (English) DANIEL GEEY, FOOTBALL LAWYER, FIELD FISHER WATERHOUSE, SAYING: "I think one season out of the Champions League, which could potentially be worth let's just say 30 million euros, 35 million euros to the club, is not a deal-breaker in terms of the revenue coming in. But a sustained period of time out of the elite competition will hurt any club, even Manchester United." Current Dutch boss Louis van Gaal is likely to be tasked with turning things around. His expected appointment as manager delayed until next week though in light of Holland's World Cup preparations. With annual revenues forecast to hit 420 million pounds, van Gaal will have plenty to spend on new talent. But buried amongst the numbers, cracks could be appearing. Third quarter merchandise sales fell by 0.8 million pounds. The club's fanbase perhaps not quite as devoted as they once were.