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Man United's loss widens on disappointing season

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) - Manchester United on Tuesday reported a wider loss for its fiscal fourth quarter after the celebrated soccer club was knocked out of lucrative tournaments early in the season.

The team, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange last month, said it lost 14.9 million pounds ($24.2 million), or 10 pence per share. That's compared to a loss of 351,000 pounds ($570,000) in the year-ago period.

For the three months ending June 30, total revenue declined by 25 percent.

Manchester United, known as the Red Devils, didn't win a major trophy for the first time since 2005. The team was eliminated in December in the group stages of the Champions League, Europe's top competition for clubs, meaning it lost out on TV and match-day revenue in following months. It was also knocked out early in the FA Cup, the English tournament.

Last year, the Red Devils had reached the final of the Champions League and the semifinal of the FA Cup.

The results released on Tuesday were the first since the 134-year-old English club made a disappointing debut on the New York Stock Exchange. Analysts said investors were reluctant to snap up shares because the company is debt ridden and the Glazer family, which owns the biggest stake in the team, retains almost total voting control.

For the year, revenue declined by 3 percent to 320.3 million pounds ($520 million). Commercial revenue grew 13.7 percent to a record 117.6 million pounds thanks to a new kit sponsor and new media and mobile deals.

Net income for fiscal 2013 rose by 79 percent in part because of tax credits.

Investors seemed unimpressed with the results - shares in Manchester United PLC were down 35 cents, or 2.7 percent, to $12.61 in midday trading in New York.

The company noted that its $559 million sponsorship deal with General Motors announced this summer is more than double the size of its deal with current sponsor Aon. The seven-year deal for GM's Chevrolet to sponsor the team shirts starts in the 2014-15 season.

Manchester United also noted that it strengthened its roster this summer with the addition of Robin Van Persie and Shinji Kagawa.

During a conference call with investors, executive vice chairman Ed Woodward declined to comment on rumors that the team was pursuing player Cristiano Rinaldo.

"Sometimes there are stories that are not true," Woodward said. "We estimate that we were linked with about 200 players last summer. Clearly we brought in five, so that's a low percentage."

For its fiscal 2013, Manchester United said it expects revenue to be between 350 million pounds and 360 million pounds. But broadcasting and ticket revenue is largely dependent on how far the team goes in English and European competitions.

Manchester United is one of the most renowned sports teams in the world. It claims 659 million followers and 26.9 million Facebook fans. Half of its fans are in Asia, where its games are televised and its replica shirts and other products are huge sellers.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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