In business, the bottom line is everything. In sports, the win column is often the primary concern. And though ultimately every club is a business, a solid period of profits can't always erase the bitter taste of a poor run of form.
Such is the case at Manchester United, where the team recently announced its quarterly financial results. From David McDonnell of the Mirror:
That would normally be enough to have any chief executive smiling. But Manchester United's chief, Ed Woodward, couldn't help but note the team's poor form when discussing the financial results.
Here are Woodward's comments, via Adam Jupp of the Manchester Evening News:
We once again achieved a record revenue quarter with strong contributions from our commercial and broadcasting businesses despite the current league position, which everyone from the Team Manager down has acknowledged is disappointing.
We continue to see meaningful opportunities to grow our commercial business and the popularity of football on TV is leading to continued broadcasting revenue growth—all of which bodes well for the long-term stability and financial strength of our business. We are also very pleased to have added a world class player in Juan Mata to our squad, who has already made a positive impact.
According to Jupp's report, last year's financial results during this quarter were £110.1m of profit, a very nice increase. The commercial revenues were also up 18.8 percent (£42.3m), the broadcasting income rose 18.7 percent and the gross debt had fallen by £10m to £356.6m.
However, the club is in very real danger of failing to qualify for next season's Champions League, which would bring with it a serious financial hit. The club is currently in seventh place in the Premier League and trails fourth-place Liverpool by nine points with 13 matches remaining.
Of course, United could always go the route of Chelsea in 2011-12 and win this year's Champions League title. That Chelsea team finished sixth in the Premier League but remained in Europe's top tournament by winning the title. Obviously, doing so is no small task, and finishing fourth in the league is a more realistic goal for this United team.
The addition of Juan Mata was huge, of course, but it hasn't exactly kicked the Red Devils into high gear. In its last four matches, the club was kicked out of the Capital One Cup by Sunderland, beat Cardiff City, lost to Stoke City and endured a whirlwind 2-2 draw against Fulham, in which the team came back to take a 2-1 lead before conceding the equaliser in stoppage time.
And now, the club travels to the Emirates Stadium to face an Arsenal squad battling for a Premier League title and still smarting after a 5-1 defeat against Liverpool.
United deserved to be pleased with a strong financial quarter. But the focus on the club will remain on their poor form if it doesn't soon improve.