Man United first quarter earnings fall as TV income drops

A reduction in broadcast revenue for Manchester United pushed underlying core earnings 15 percent lower at the English Premier League soccer club in the quarter to end-September.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell to 16 million pounds ($26 million) after broadcast revenue declined 37 percent because the club played only one Champions League game in the period and also received less TV money from pooled payments based on performance.

However, a 24 percent rise in revenues from commercial deals helped total revenues up 3 percent to 76 million pounds. United signed 10 new sponsorship deals in the first quarter.

United, owned by the American Glazer family, said profit from continuing operations was up to 20.5 million pounds against a loss of 5 million pounds a year earlier, a figure that was boosted by a tax credit which the club said related to it moving to certain U.S. tax bases.

"Manchester United had a record first quarter driven by our commercial operation, which continues to experience extremely strong global revenue growth in new media & mobile, retail merchandising & sponsorship," said Ed Woodward, executive vice-chairman.

United listed on the New York Stock Exchange in August under a dual-share structure that left the American Glazer family firmly in control of the club. The shares listed at $14 to value the club at $2.3 billion, but have fallen since and closed at $12.98 on Tuesday.

Debt at the club fell to 360 million pounds, down 17 percent from a year ago, following the New York listing. Critics of the Glazers have argued that debt costs have made it hard for the club to compete with rival teams at home and in Europe.

United have made a strong start to the current season on the pitch. They top the English Premier League and have already qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League after last year's costly failure to make it past the group stages of Europe's top club competition.

United have won the English league title a record 19 times but have faced growing competition in recent seasons from clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea, bankrolled by wealthy owners.

Chelsea, who won the Champions League in May, said last week they had made a profit in 2011-12, returning to the black for the first time since Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003.

($1 = 0.6293 British pounds)

(Reporting by Keith Weir, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)