Among the many reasons not to buy shares in Manchester United in the forthcoming flotation on the New York Stock Exchange are the pure, cold financial numbers. The updated prospectus shows what happens when the team flops in the Champions League: ignoring a one-off tax credit, the club will report a small operating loss from continuing operations for the 12 months to June this year; and revenues will be about 4% lower than the previous year at Â£315m-Â£320m.
Yet the Glazers hope buyers can be found for Man Utd at a price tag of almost $3bn (Â£1.9bn). Six times revenues! That’s a rating associated with go-go technology stocks where income doubles every couple of years. At Man United, despite the Glazer camp’s boasts about greater commercial adventure and bigger sponsorship deals, revenues have advanced by a grand total of 14% over the course of the past three years.