March 23, 2018 / 4:38 PM / 4 months ago

Soccer: New TV rights deal helps Southampton post record turnover

(Reuters) - Despite their perilous position in the Premier League, Southampton reported record revenue of 182.3 million pounds ($258 million) for the year ending June 30, 2017, boosted by income growth and participation in last season’s Europa League.

St Mary’s Football Group Ltd, the club’s parent company, said on Friday that profit after tax rose to 34.1 million pounds from 4.9 million a year earlier, while net debt of 38.9 million pounds was converted to net cash of 2.9 million in 2017.

The nearly 47 percent rise in revenue year-on-year was driven mainly by the league’s new bumper television rights deal and the club having more live games televised than in the previous campaign.

Southampton were also helped by their participation in the Europa League group stages and a run to the League Cup final, which they lost to Manchester United.

The positive financial results will raise hopes that the club can arrest the trend of losing their top talent to their rivals. However, Southampton’s struggles in the league this season are sure to temper any optimism.

Saints have long been criticised for selling their best players and lost wide forward Sadio Mane to Liverpool in the period for which they reported results.

The team are currently in the relegation zone with eight matches to play, and parted company with manager Mauricio Pellegrino earlier this month, bringing in Mark Hughes as his replacement.

“The performance of the team always remains our ultimate focus, and through continuing to strengthen our financial position we give ourselves the best opportunity of driving improvement on the pitch,” managing director Toby Steele said in a statement.

Mane is one of several players who has made the switch from St. Mary’s Stadium to Anfield in recent seasons and Southampton also sold defender Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool in January.

The Van Dijk sale for a reported 75 million pounds was sanctioned despite the club receiving an injection of capital when Chinese businessman Jisheng Gao purchased an 80 percent stake for about 210 million pounds in August last year.

($1 = 0.7059 pounds)

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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