Man Utd on track for £500 mn plus revenue in single year

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London (AFP)

Manchester United are in line to become the first British club to "exceed" half a billion pounds in revenue in a single year, even if participation in the lucrative Champions League next season still hangs in the balance, the club said Friday.

United head into their final Premier League game at home to Bournemouth on Sunday, in fifth place and two points behind local rivals Manchester City.

Only the top four clubs in the English top flight are guaranteed a place in the Champions League and failure to do so will add to the pressure on United manager Louis van Gaal, whose future at Old Trafford is the subject of intense speculation.

But none of that stopped United, who face Crystal Palace in the FA Cup final at Wembley later this month, from announcing a record underlying pre-tax third quarter profits of £44.9 million ($64.7 million, 57.04 million euros) on Friday.

The Premier League side said in a statement that this represented an increase of 76.8 percent, while revenue for the same 2016 fiscal third quarter and nine months ended March 31 had risen to £123.4 million, up 29.9 percent.

Commercial revenues rose 37.7 percent to £65.8 million, with total operating expenses up 3.2 percent to of £102.2 million compared to the same quarter last year.

In a subsequent conference call with investors, United head of corporate finance Hemen Tseayo said the club, one of world sport's biggest brands with a huge global fan base, expected revenues would "exceed" £500 million and possibly be as much as £510 million in 2016.

As for what impact failing to qualify for the Champions League would have on the club's 10-year £750 million deal with German sportswear giants Adidas signed in 2014, Tseayo added there would be a 30 percent cut only if United missed out on a place in European club football's elite tournament two seasons running.

Any reduction would be spread over the remaining life of the deal.

But with only investors, rather than reporters, posing questions, United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward was not asked about what impact, if any, failure to qualify for the Champions League would have on van Gaal.

Woodward also made no mention of the Dutchman in an earlier statement to accompany the financial results, where he expresses satisfaction with the club's performance on and off the field.

"The conclusion to this year's season demonstrates once again why the Premier League is the most popular league in the most popular sport," Woodward said of a title race won by former 5,000/1 outsiders Leicester City.

"As we reflect on our season, we are delighted by the emergence of yet another crop of exciting young players that demonstrate once again our terrific track record of youth development," Woodward added.

"We are looking forward to the FA Cup final on May 21 and hopefully winning this special trophy for a record-equalling 12th time."

United's operating expenses rose to £102.2m -- a 3.2 percent increase compared to the same quarter last year.

In the conference call, Woodward attributed some of this increase to high transfer spending by van Gaal, which was necessary for squad "re-tooling".

"Things will stabilise in the coming few years and then be lumpy thereafter," said Woodward.