‘Old Trafford naming rights would earn £26m a year’

Manchester United are missing out on over £26m (€29m) a season in potential revenue for Old Trafford’s naming rights, a new study claims.

That figure, £7m more than Manchester City earn from Etihad’s sponsorship of their ground, is contained, according to corporate finance advisers Duff & Phelps. The corporate financiers believe the value of this market has risen by 80% from £74.6m in 2013 to £135.6m last year, with the league’s ‘big six’ accounting for more than three-quarters of that sum.

United, however, have repeatedly said they have no intention of selling the naming rights to their 75,000-capacity home, a stance understood not to have changed.

The study ranks Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge as the third most valuable naming rights deal at nearly £18m a year, with Spurs’ new White Hart Lane worth a potential £15.5m to a sponsor — marginally more than Emirates’ deal with Arsenal.

Liverpool’s Anfield is in sixth place at £11.1m, but this is probably a reflection of the fact the naming rights to famous old grounds are not particularly attractive to sponsors as very few people ever use the new names — a point that could also be made about Old Trafford.

The evidence from North America, where naming rights deals are common, suggests sponsors are also reluctant to take on a ground that has previously been sponsored by somebody else, as the name tends to linger. This explains why new stadia, whose names have not yet stuck, are worth a premium.

Trevor Birch of Duff & Phelps acknowledged that these valuations were “not an exact science” and were “potential, theoretic valuations that might not be achievable on the market”.

The former Liverpool youth player, who quit football to train as an accountant and went on to become chief executive at Chelsea, Leeds, Everton, Derby, Sheffield United, and Portsmouth, believes the naming rights to “iconic” grounds, such as Old Trafford, can still attract big sums.

Birch highlighted the example of Real Madrid and the Bernabeu — although that deal, worth a reported £350m with energy multinational Cespa, is now in doubt — and pointed out that eight of the 20 clubs in the Premier League have got naming rights deals.

“It’s an emotive topic, particularly in this country, but it’s an area that is definitely under-utilised as a revenue stream,” said Birch.

One Premier League club keen to tap into this market is West Ham, but efforts to secure a naming-rights partner for the London Stadium have been hampered by negative headlines related to its building and running costs. Duff & Phelps believes sponsorship for the former Olympic Stadium could be worth almost £5m a season, though.

Meanwhile Phil Jones admits Manchester United deserved to lose at Newcastle after a performance that simply was “not good enough”.

Jose Mourinho’s wait for his first Premier League win at St James’ Park continued on Sunday as old foe Rafael Benitez oversaw a memorable 1-0 victory thanks to Matt Ritchie’s strike on an afternoon when relegation-threatened Newcastle dug deep, stuck together, and gave their all — a performance that second-placed Red Devils were no match for.

“Poor,” Jones said of his side’s display. “Poor. We started slow and sloppy

“We gained a bit of momentum midway through the first half. Second half we had a few chances, cleared off the line, but, you know, we’re not kidding ourselves. We were not good enough.”

Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles did not mince his words after beating United, claiming most of Jose Mourinho’s players “went missing” and that their defence “didn’t really know what to do”.

“They have got some great players, but I don’t think United turned up,” the defender said.

“We have played against Arsenal and Man City and you can really see the quality and one mistake or a lack of concentration and a goal will go in.

“I don’t think they were at it from the start of the game — a lot of their players went missing.

“It was probably the way we were playing, we made them play like that.

“In the first half they were making a lot of mistakes passing the ball around, but it was down to our pressing.

“We were aggressive, and they didn’t like it. You could see their centre-halves on the ball and they didn’t really know what to do with it.

“We set up really well and we matched up really well against them. The manager got it spot on.”


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