Manchester United PLC (NYSE:MANU) fourth quarter results released today revealed that net debt has more than doubled to £474mln, as cash resources reduced by £256mln.

The impacts, largely tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, include an £80mln deferral of payments from shirt sponsor Chevrolet, a £50mln loss of advance matchday receipts for the 2020/21 season, and £56mln of net capital spending on ‘player investment’.

United’s cash balance has fallen 83% over the twelve months to stand at just £51.5mln on June 30 – though the club noted that it retains some £150mln of additional liquidity via existing revolving credit facilities. It added that the facility provided financial flexibility to support the Club through the disruption caused by COVID-19.

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In New York, United shares started the trading session with a 36 cent or 2.7% per share rally, changing hands at US$13.65.

Total revenue for the twelve months to June 30 fell 18.8% to £509mln, while operating profit was reported at £5.2mln down 89% from £50mln.

Earnings (adjusted EBITDA) was reported at £132.1mln, down 28.9% from £185.8mln.

The club debt, according to a recent report by sports media outlet The Athletic, carries covenant that stipulates earning cannot fallow below £65mln for a rolling twelve-month period, assessed quarterly.

United’s result put into stark context the reports in recent days and weeks that the club has alongside traditional rival (and fellow US owned sports franchise) Liverpool FC been working on potential money-spinning proposals for structural and financial reforms.

The proposals – first for a revamp of the English league system and, yesterday, a new European Premier League – have come under fire from critics that claims they will concentrate too much power and money among too few clubs whilst going against traditional ‘open’ and ‘fair play’ competition.

Ed Woodward, in United’s results statement, meanwhile, said: “We are also committed to playing a constructive role in helping the wider football pyramid through this period of adversity, while exploring options for making the English game stronger and more sustainable in the long-term.

“This requires strategic vision and leadership from all stakeholders, and we look forward to helping drive forward that process in a timely manner.”

Whilst United’s figures perhaps present new question marks over the future of the English game and, more pertinently to some, the financial future for its ‘biggest club’, they quite strongly suggest an answer to the recent question of whether United could’ve had any serious intent to buy Jadon Sancho for £100mln this summer.