English Premier League club Manchester United posted a 10 percent fall in first quarter revenue as the absence of lucrative Champions League soccer this season took its toll.
United, currently seventh in the table and still struggling with what has been a dismal transition since Alex Ferguson retired as manager in May 2013, said total revenue fell to 88.7 million pounds ($139 million) in the three months to Sept. 30.
That compared to 98.5 million pounds posted a year ago but was ahead of an analyst consensus forecast of 86 million pounds.
An 8.6 percent drop in adjusted core earnings to 20.3 million pounds was also ahead of analyst expectations of 14.5 million, helped by a rise in sponsorship money and a lower wage bill.
“While we recognize that the 2014/15 fiscal year financial results will reflect our absence from the Champions League… we are excited to focus our efforts on the meaningful growth opportunities in sponsorship, digital media and retail and merchandising,” United Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said.
Manchester United Club’s global appeal, which is says stretches to 659 million followers, continued to prove lucrative, with five sponsorship deals signed in the quarter as well as a world record 750 million pound kit deal with Adidas.
However, its broadcasting and matchday revenues took a hit, falling 13 and 22 percent respectively, as the impact of last season’s failure to qualify for the Champions League, Europe’s top club competition, was laid bare. This season is the club’s first without European soccer for over two decades.
United, majority owned by the American Glazer family, reiterated expectations for lower full-year revenue of 385-395 million pounds, and core earnings of 90-95 million.
Under Dutchman Louis van Gaal, who took over as coach for the start of the season after an ill-fated spell for Ferguson’s replacement David Moyes, the club have spent heavily on the likes of Argentine winger Angel di Maria and young English defender Luke Shaw to improve their fortunes.
Progress has been mixed, however, and the 20-times champions are 13 points adrift of Premier League leaders Chelsea after 11 games, and are out of the League Cup.