Manchester United have revealed their second quarter fiscal 2021 results, which sees the clubs debt rise 16 per cent to £455.5 million.
The Red Devils' results paint a clearer picture of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on football, lost 12 months on from when the Premier League was forced into a halt following COVID-19's emergence across Europe.
Although the league has faced minimal disruption in the 2020/21 season, fans have been unable to attend matches largely throughout the season, despite a brief period in the beginning of December, which only allowed clubs in certain areas of the country welcome spectators. Manchester United was not one of those clubs.
"While the disruption to our operations remains significant, we are pleased by the tremendous resilience the club has demonstrated through the pandemic, underpinned by the dedication of our people and the strength of our commercial business," said Ed Woodward, Manchester United's executive vice-chairman.
"We have been reminded of the importance of football as a source of community, entertainment and pride to fans around the world, even as we have sorely missed them at Old Trafford."
Despite financial implications off the pitch, United have seen some on-field success, where they currently sit second in the Premier League, are into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and in the last 16 of the Europa League.
“The progress made by Ole and the players this season is clear and our thriving academy and women’s team are also adding to the optimism we feel about the future on and off the pitch," he said.
It has also been revealed that United's revenue was down 7.2 per cent year-on-year to £281.8 million, with profit dropping by 6.9 per cent to £33.8 million.
Broadcasting revenue was up to £156.3 million, an increase of 60.1 per cent, due to the clubs return to the UEFA Champions League.
"In the near-term, our focus remains on preparing for the return of fans to Old Trafford,' Woodward added. "We are seeing some positive examples around the world of live events with reduced capacity crowds delivered safely with social distancing.
"The successful rapid rollout of vaccines and falling rate of infections in the UK makes us optimistic about the government’s roadmap out of the lockdown, including plans for the gradual reopening of sports stadia to spectators beginning this spring.
"Initially this will be with limits on capacity, but we are hopeful of crowds ramping back up to full capacity next season."
Author: Jake Wilkin