Signing Tom Brady has paid dividends for the owners of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They transitioned overnight from just another NFL team to one discussed incessantly. And, oh yeah, Tampa Bay is off to its first 4-2 start since 2011.
And now the Bucs’ owners are even winning when they lose. Manchester United, the flagship franchise of their international sports empire, released its financial report this week. The numbers looked awful but didn’t tell the real story.
In short, the Glazer family could be heading for a big year. In fact, they banked $30 million during a historically bad year.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be headed to a Super Bowl
Family patriarch Malcolm Glazer made a bold move in 1995 by paying a record $192 million for the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Forbes says the Bucs are now worth $2.28 billion despite having to leave money on the table this fall because the pandemic is keeping them from what would surely be a string of sellouts for home games.
Cushioning the blow for the Glazer family is the fact that their team has been selling tons of Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski jerseys this summer and fall, not to mention other merchandise. And though attendance at Raymond James Stadium is being limited to under 25% of capacity, all of the usual network television revenue is pouring in.
The 4-2 start has the Buccaneers poised for a postseason run and perhaps their first appearance in the Super Bowl – at Raymond James Stadium, no less — since January 2003.
In short, the Glazer family – Malcolm Glazer died in 2014 at age 85, leaving his empire to his six children — will weather the COVID-19 storm on this side of the Atlantic just fine in 2020.
Manchester United is the jewel
Buying the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a big move. Malcolm Glazer made his second bold move by gobbling up a controlling interest in Manchester United, one of the most famous soccer clubs in the world, shortly after the turn of the century.
The fact that an American had taken over arguably the premier club in all of Great Britain — and did so by taking the organization deeply into debt — did not sit well with supporters.
However, Manchester United has won the Premier League five times, plus and an FA Cup and four EFL Cups, under the Glazers’ ownership. In addition, the team has captured a UEFA Champions League title and a UEFA Europa League crown in that time.
Although the Glazer siblings maintained 90% control, Manchester United raised capital in August 2012 by becoming a publicly traded corporation on the New York Stock Exchange.
Manchester United’s latest report looked worse than it was
Manchester United reported its annual earnings on Oct. 21, and the numbers for the fiscal year ending in June didn’t look pretty on the surface. With nearly all of the trouble stemming from the pandemic, the club reported an 18% decrease in revenue and a $29 million loss compared to the previous year’s $24 million profit, according to Forbes. The organization’s cash balance plummeted to $67 million compared to more than $400 million the previous year.
Looking inside the numbers, however, the picture compared to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers isn’t as bleak as it might seem. Broadcast revenue fell from $314 million to $183 million, but a lot of that had to do with the stoppage of the season because of COVID-19. Once action resumes, 10 matches, including three UEFA Europa League contests, were pushed into the current fiscal year. That revenue, as well as participation in the Champions League (they opened by beating Paris Saint-Germain, 2-1) will be reflected in next year’s annual report.
Also, the cash balance was depleted in large part by Manchester United allowing some of its major sponsors to defer scheduled payments. That alone accounted for more than $100 million that has already started coming back onto the books.
Almost none of the negative factors affected the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the same degree because the brunt of the COVID-19 shutdown came during the NFL offseason.
Wall Street reacted to the soccer team’s news with a buying frenzy. Manchester United shares shot up 9.3% to close at $14.56 in the hours after the financial disclosure.
One final note: The six Glazier siblings, who control 90% of the Manchester United stock, took in the majority of the more than $30 million that the soccer club paid in dividends this year. Though the club could afford to continue paying its semiannual dividends, the optics of doing so during the pandemic aren’t especially good.