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United hit £500m highs but revenue drops

Manchester United players celebrate a goal against Chelsea. PHOTO/File

Manchester United players celebrate a goal against Chelsea. PHOTO/File

MANCHESTER, September 17- Manchester United’s revenues fell by 8.8 percent last season, but the club on Thursday predicted record revenues of £500 million ($776.4 million, 686 million euros) to £510 million for 2015-16.

United’s failure to qualify for the lucrative Champions League saw revenues for the period 2014-15 fall by £38 million to £395.2 million, as revealed in their annual report, largely due to losses in gate receipts and broadcasting income.

But with a new £750 million kit deal with Adidas having recently taken effect, United expect to become the first English club to break through the £500 million barrier over the current campaign.

“As we look to the new season, we are enthusiastic about our strong position, both on and off the pitch,” United’s executive vice chairman Ed Woodward said in a statement sent to investors.

“In recent weeks we have further strengthened our squad with an exciting mix of experience and youth, qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, and seen an impressive launch of our partnership with Adidas.

“Our record revenue and EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) guidance for 2016 reflects the underlying strength of our business and our confidence in its continued growth.”

United’s 10-year partnership with Adidas, which began on September 1, dwarves many of their rivals’ kit deals and the beginning of a new £5.14 billion Premier League TV rights deal in 2016-17 will swell their coffers further.

United failed to qualify for the Champions League in 2013-14, for the first time since 1995, after finishing seventh in the Premier League in the first season after the departure of legendary manager Alex Ferguson.

But new manager Louis van Gaal led them to a fourth-place finish last season and they qualified for this season’s tournament after beating Belgian side Club Brugge in a two-legged play-off in August.

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Van Gaal has overseen an investment of over £250 million in new players since being appointed as the permanent successor to David Moyes, Ferguson’s unsuccessful replacement, in July 2014.

The club’s gross debt, stemming from American owners the Glazer family’s leveraged takeover in 2005, grew from £341.8 million to £411 million, but United said that was down to a strong dollar.

They also announced that they will raise another $400 million by selling new shares on the New York Stock Exchange, where the club is listed.

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