International, Sports

Manchester United debt exceeds 600 million U.S. dollars.

LONDON, Oct. 21 -- English Premier League club Manchester United revealed Wednesday its debt mountain has exceeded 600 million U.S. dollars.The club blamed a massively reduced income on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has seen teams playing behind closed doors in shutdown stadiums.

The loss was revealed in the club's annual report for 2019-20 which also reported income from broadcasting matches had fallen by almost 42 percent.Manchester United's net debt is 474.1 million pounds (602 million U.S. dollars)  more than double the 203.6 million pounds (266.4 million U.S. dollars) it was 12 months ago, a 132.9 percent rise.The club reported its commercial revenue for the year was 279 million pounds (365 million U.S. dollars), an increase of 3.9 million pounds (5.10 million U.S. dollars), or 1.4 percent, over the prior year.

Sponsorship revenue was 182.7 million pounds (239 U.S. dollars), an increase of 5.6 percent, over the prior year, while retail, merchandising and product licensing revenue was 96.3 million pounds (126 million U.S. dollars), a decrease of 5.7 percent, over the prior year. This was due to the closure of the Old Trafford Megastore from mid-March 2020 to mid-June 2020.Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told investors Wednesday: "We are looking back today on what has been one of the most extraordinary and challenging seasons in recent history. There are still big challenges and uncertainties ahead as the coronavirus pandemic continues to disrupt our way of life across the globe."He said the pandemic disruption was clear to see in the financial results, adding the club expected the impact to remain visible for quite some time to come."However, the past year has also demonstrated the underlying strength and resilience of the club; the special role that sport plays in our societies; and the meaningful impact the club can make in our communities through this period of adversity," he added.Referring to a call for a shake-up in English football, Woodward referred to discussions taking place about plans to address the near-term financial predicament created by the pandemic for clubs in the lower leagues."We have been playing an active role in those discussions because we strongly believe in supporting the English football pyramid, both in the short term, to address the issues created by COVID-19, and in the long term to improve financial sustainability at all levels of the game."There will always be intense debate around any changes to the structure of football, just as there was before the formation of the Premier League 28 years ago. Now, at this critical juncture for the game, we must ensure that the huge success of the Premier League is reinforced while ensuring that the wider football pyramid continues to thrive in a rapidly changing media environment."He said on the pitch, Manchester United has strengthened its team over the summer and remains committed to an objective of winning trophies, playing entertaining, attacking football with a blend of Academy graduates and high-quality recruits, while carefully managing resources to protect the long-term resilience of the club.Manchester United is one of the most popular and successful sports teams in the world. In the club's 142-year history, they have won 66 trophies, enabling them to develop a global community of 1.1 billion fans and followers.The Red Devils have 13 million followers in China's social media Weibo.