1824: Man Utd: Financial results har
by : Alex Wolstenholme
The inevitable angle of the drop in half-year profits announced by Manchester United this week has been that the Sir Alex Ferguson era is drawing to a close and that the Old Trafford club have some work to do to regain their position at the very top of English football.
United though haven’t announced losses, merely a drop in profits. They still made over ₤12 million pounds in the six months to January 2005, a period which saw them sign Wayne Rooney and tie up a contract with Ruud van Nistelrooy.
The combination of Roman Abramovich’s money and Jose Mourinho’s top-notch coaching credentials have combined to give Chelsea an edge this season but their 11-point gap in the Premiership came about mainly from a better start to the campaign.
Since Christmas there has been virtually nothing between the two sides and Ferguson, whether he stays or goes has built yet another side capable of challenging for the title in years to come, with players like Rooney, Ronaldo and Ferdinand whose best form should still be ahead of them.
Off the pitch United’s growth may be slowing down but only in comparison to some record years. The work that has been done in markets all around the world will ensure that the money keeps rolling in and that it will be money that most other sides can only dream about.
In just a couple of season’s time, home games at Old Trafford will be played out in front of 75,000 full houses, a move that is set to pay for itself in six years and then produce more profits in the years to come.
Just as United have recovered from the temporary blows inflicted on them in the past by Blackburn and Arsenal, they will do so again even if Chelsea’s assault lasts slightly longer this time.
While the foundations are being laid for a sustainable long-term future at Stamford Bridge, it has taken a massive effort this season to keep United at bay and that cannot be sustained forever.
Alex Ferguson’s comments recently about Chelsea never being as ‘big’ a side as United are to a large extent true meaning that all things being equal players and managers would choose to go to Old Trafford rather than West London.
Things aren’t equal of course but when the Chelsea revolution starts to slow down, United will still be well placed to regain their position at the head of affairs.
Malcolm Glazer remains in the frame for a possible takeover of course but the combined opposition of the fans and the current board may be enough to put that off.
Whatever the outcome of that saga, market forces by and large dictate success in the Premiership and United’s position at the head of the market, if not the table remains unassailable.