Doomed Sheffield Utd defy covid to post first profit since 2008

By David Owen

April 2 – Championship-bound Sheffield United have become only the third Premier League club to date to post a pre-tax profit for the covid-affected 2019-20 financial year.

The Saudi-controlled outfit, who eventually managed a highly creditable ninth-place finish, took the imaginative step of extending its 2019-20 reporting period to 13 months, “in order to present complete and comparable financial results”. For this 13-month period to end-July, the club posted a pre-tax profit of £19 million. This was described as “the company’s first profit-making period since 2008”.

With 2018-19 having been spent securing promotion from the second tier, many of the year-on-year comparisons denote big changes. Turnover was up nearly seven-fold at £143.1 million, with broadcast income – £116.8 million – mainly responsible. Staff costs nearly doubled from £40.7 million to £77.9 million. Additional covid costs were put at £11.7 million.

The corporate entity – The Sheffield United Football Club Limited – also embarked on a round of capital investment. Properties acquired included the Bramall Lane stadium, a training facility and a gym, as well as a nearby hotel and office block. Total acquisition cost was put at £38 million.

Partly as a consequence of the resultant jump in tangible assets, fixed assets at end-July 2020 leapt to £101.9 million from just £9 million at end-June 2019.

Amounts owed to group undertakings, which are repayable on demand, rose from £3.7 million at the end of 2018-19 to just under £16.4 million at the end of the latest period.

With nine games to go, the Blades are 14 points adrift of safety at the foot of the Premier League table, having recently parted company with Chris Wilder, the club’s highly-regarded manager.

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