• 1 December 2010
  • content

David Gill has talked up Manchester United's business model by saying that they have a long-term financing structure in place. "We have a long-term financing structure in place, excellent revenues that are growing, we are controlling our costs and we can afford the interest on our long-term finance," he said.

Which was true, up to a point. As United recorded near double-digit percentage growth in their year-on-year turnover for the period, one area that United's income did not grow much was in match-day revenue, which remained flat (up 0.5%). United did miss out on fan spending at an extra Carling Cup fixture in 2009 – although Old Trafford was little more than a third full that day – when this year they played away in the same round. But the levelling out is all the more troubling when last year's total match-day revenues fell by almost 8% year on year. And there are more telling signs of troubles ahead.

This month United have spent big money placing national-newspaper adverts for three fixtures for which tickets are on general sale: evidently the former excess demand has melted away. As for cost controls, the figures show that United's wage bill has risen 14.6% year on year and do not take into account the recent generosity shown to Wayne Rooney. All this makes for a less-efficient business than before. EBITDA margin, the measure that ties profit to turnover, has worryingly fallen.

Related Player: