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Manchester United quarterly revenue tumbles as ticket sales suffer

(Reuters) - Manchester United MANU.N said late on Thursday its first-quarter revenue fell nearly 20%, as it continued to lose out on ticket sales from fans unable to attend matches due to the coronavirus crisis.

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester United v West Ham United - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - July 22, 2020 General view of the corner flag inside the stadium before the match, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Martin Rickett/Pool via REUTERS/Files

The results were expected on Friday, but the company said the statement was released a day in advance due to an error by the publishers of its filings.

The pandemic has played havoc with the sporting calendar, forcing the suspension of English Premier League fixtures for three months, with fans still unable to attend matches.

United has failed to win at home in the league this season and had urged the government last month to allow fans back into stadiums, adding it can safely host 23,500 fans at Old Trafford while maintaining social distancing.

It remains uncertain whether fans would be welcomed back any time soon after England imposed a one-month lockdown this month.

Manchester United’s Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward said on Thursday the health crisis continued to cause “significant disruption”, but was optimistic that a recovery phase was gradually coming into view.

The results come at a time when club manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s future was questioned after a shock 2-1 defeat to Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League last week, but those concerns were eased following the win at Everton.

“We remain absolutely committed to the positive path we are on under Ole as the team continues to develop,” Woodward said.

The club said playing matches behind closed doors and cancellation of the pre-season tour hit revenue, which was partly offset by higher broadcasting revenue compared to the last quarter.

Matchday revenue slumped 92.3% to 1.7 million pounds ($2.23 million), while broadcasting revenue jumped 44.7% to 47.6 million pounds.

The company said quarterly loss was 30.3 million pounds and revenue was 109 million pounds.

Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong and Nivedita Balu in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur

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