It was only in April when Liverpool released their financial accounts for the 2019/20 period.
What was a £42m pre-tax profit in 2019 swung to a £46m pre-tax loss in 2020 as the Reds felt the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic, with revenues falling from £533m to £490m.
But while the 2020 accounts may have only recently been revealed, the 2021 accounting period has also now closed, those results likely to be made public in early 2022 and likely to see another considerable loss owing to the lack of matchday revenues and the ongoing impact of COVID-19.
There are very few clubs who have managed to escape financial distress over the past 15 months or so, with collective losses in the Premier League alone surging past the £1bn mark. More clubs will post heavy losses over the coming months as the full impact of the pandemic will be laid bare, but there are some clues as to what may be in store.
Being a publicly listed company, the only one in the Premier League, Manchester United are open to more financial scrutiny having to present quarterly reports to shareholders and the stock market.
The Red Devils have now published their third quarter report, a report that gives the best insight yet as to just how the pandemic has affected clubs. It also offers some clues as to what will act as a welcome boost to clubs when they come to reveal their full accounts for 2021.
In their latest report United saw their EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) decrease by 21.7 per cent to £105.5 million in the nine months until March 31 as the impact of the pandemic and inability to have fans back in stadiums continued to take its toll.
Turnover slumped 6.4 per cent to £400.1 million, although for the nine months to March 31 there was a relatively small operating loss of £200,000, although the figure for the same reporting period in 2020 was £44.2m.
United did get a welcome boost from the payment of broadcasting rights that had been held back, something that Liverpool will see a significant jump from in 2021 compared to their 2020 accounts, with United getting a 73.9 per cent increase in broadcast revenues to £214.9 million as five additional Premier League games were played in the quarter.
While that rise is one area that will look healthier for Liverpool when their 2021 accounts are published, United's matchday revenues for the quarter show just how much impact the lack of fans in stadiums has had.
Matchday revenue for the quarter fell by 94.5 per cent, from £27.5m to £1.6m with no fans in attendance. Other factors that contributed to the latest financials were commercial revenue for the quarter was falling to £58.1 million, a decrease of £10.5 million, or 15.3%, over the prior year quarter.
For United fans the issue of debt has long been a topic to elicit much ire, the unpopular nature of the Glazer family's ownership through their leveraged buyout of the club back in 2005 only intensifying as debt rose and dividends continued to be paid out handsomely despite precious little being put in to the club by their American owners.
As of the latest quarter, United's net debt stood at £443.5m, compared with £429.1m for the same period 12 months prior, a £14.4m rise.
Wages for the third quarter rose 22.6 per cent to £85.2 million due to salary increases related to participation in the Champions League and "continued investment in the first team playing squad."
"The absence of fans over the past year has proved that they are the lifeblood of the game," said United's executive vice chairman Ed Woodward, who announced his decision to leave his role at the end of the season after the failed plot to launch the European Super League back in April.
"Following the successful return of limited numbers at the end of last season, and continued trials of increased crowds at sports events this summer, we remain optimistic about the prospect of fans returning to Old Trafford in larger numbers going forwards. With the foundations for long-term success in place, including significant initiatives to strengthen engagement with our supporters, we look forward to the upcoming season."
For Liverpool, they will have a number of other factors that will both positively and negatively effect their financials for next season on top of the likely trends that will be followed in terms of matchday income and broadcast rights.
Liverpool have a number of new commercial deals that will come into play in the 2021 accounting period, most notably that of the Nike kit deal which promises 20 per cent royalties on the sale of Reds branded Nike merchandise globally. It will be the first evidence of whether it is delivering on the relationship in the way that both want, with Liverpool hoping to see the £30m flat annual fee more than double due to the nature of the arrangement.
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Like United, Liverpool will likely see an increase in their substantial wage bill.
At Anfield, success on the pitch has been directly linked to the rise in the wage bill, with lucrative bonuses paid out as a reward for their on-field exploits, enough to see wages rise from £310 to £325m in the latest accounts, a figure that puts them behind only Manchester City in the Premier League when it comes to the money paid out on wages to players. City's wage bill currently stands at £351m.
Since 2015, Liverpool's wage bill has shot up by 95 per cent, growing at a far steeper rate that the 64 per cent rise in revenues during the same period. And with bonuses to be paid out to players for a Premier League success in 2020, a season that finished after the 2020 accounting period closed owing to the pausing of the season due to the pandemic, as well as Champions League qualification, it will likely mean another rise in payroll for the Reds.
But with fans set to return in full force from the start of next season should the government's plan for the full reopening of society go ahead as planned then Reds owners Fenway Sports Group will be more bullish about their financial prospects of the club for the 2022 accounts.