Manchester United’s half-year profits have dropped by more than 50%, a fall which makes them vulnerable to a takeover package from US businessman Malcolm Glazer.
The club reported pre-tax profits of £12.4m for the six months to 31 January, down from £26.8m a year earlier, largely as a result of falling TV income and the cost of buying new players.
Overall sales were little changed at £91.6m compared with £92.4m, but United spent £27m on Wayne Rooney and also bought Alan Smith and Gabriel Heinze.
Chief executive David Gill tried to play down speculation that their falling profits would attract a takeover bid from US tycoon Malcolm Glazer.
Glazer is currently finalising funding for an £800m bid for United. His offer of 300p per share is much higher that the present share price of 272p and may prove attractive to shareholders.
“Glazer is completing his due diligence at the moment and we’re waiting for him to revert,” Gill told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.
“We said before that 300 pence per share is a reasonable price but the business plan and debt levels are too aggressive to be in United’s interests.
“We don’t make knee-jerk reactions, we are comfortable with a long-term plan.
“The board believes that its strategy and business plan for the company are strong and that over time significant value can continue to be delivered to shareholders.”
Gill even admitted that manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s place at the club could come under scrutiny if performances on the pirtch didn’t improve.
“He is sackable, we live in a pressurised sport and that pressure is always there,” added Gill.
“But removing Ferguson isn’t something we have discussed. It would be detrimental to the club to make a knee-jerk reaction for not winning the league again.
“We have a very strong management team with Sir Alex and his assistant Carlos Queiroz.”