Woodward salutes Man Utd sponsorship revenue in Q4 earnings call

Manchester United’s sponsorship activity was one of the financial highlights for the year ending June 30, 2018, the club’s chief executive Ed Woodward told a conference call of investors this afternoon.

In the quarterly earnings call, the club highlighted its seven sponsorship deals from the last financial year, including its first ever shirt sleeve partnership with US brand Kohler.

Of the seven deals, five were global partnerships, one was a regional partnership and the other a financial services partnership.

Despite the deals, commercial revenue increased just £1m (€1.1m/$1.3m) or 0.2 per cent, up from £275m in 2017 to £276m in 2018. Sponsorship revenue was £173m, a rise of one per cent.

Overall, total revenue was up 1.5 per cent in 2017-18. Television revenue was also up, but matchday revenue was down.

Urging listeners to look at the “bigger picture”, Woodward told investors: “We are the biggest sports team in the world, measured by the number of fans.”

Managing director Richard Arnold, also on the call, noted that Man Utd has more Facebook followers than the NBA, NFL and NHL combined.

Taking only a single question, Woodward was asked by a caller whether he can see opportunities to monetise Man Utd’s training kit or other areas of the jersey.

Woodward responded: “We are restricted by Premier League, FA and Uefa rules.”

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The partnership is understood to be a three-season deal, from 2019-20 to 2021-22, and builds on AXA’s existing Global Partner agreement with Liverpool.

The deal is the largest ever sponsorship investment in UK women’s sport and comes less than a year after the league went fully professional in September 2018.

Under the five-year global deal, Oppo will become the first Official Smartphone Partner of The Championships, Wimbledon, as the event is officially known.

US sportswear brand Nike is paying about $7.5m (€6.7m) per year to sponsor China’s League of Legends Pro League (LPL), according to industry sources.