Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford before the pandemic closed the pitch. Picture: AFP
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford before the pandemic closed the pitch. Picture: AFP

London — Manchester United has said the coronavirus outbreak cut the soccer club’s third-quarter revenue by about £23m. The stock fell.

CFO Cliff Baty gave the estimate on a conference call following an earnings update that included a £15m rebate United will pay to broadcasters for soccer fixtures halted because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The return of those funds meant United’s broadcasting sales fell by more than half, year on year, to £26m. That left total revenue down about 19% at £123.7m, the club said in a statement that provided its first update since matches were suspended in March.

The company withdrew its previous financial guidance for the year because of “ongoing uncertainty due to Covid-19 and the evolving ,related economic and financial consequences”.

The pandemic has ravaged the international sporting calendar, disrupting soccer leagues around the world. Germany’s top-flight professional league resumed matches on May 16, with spectators barred from stadiums.

United’s rebate calculation was based on 29 Premier League fixtures covered up to the end of the third quarter, a spokesperson said by phone, adding that the remaining nine games will be accounted for in the fourth-quarter report. Baty added on the call that the rebate would rise to £20m for the full-year as a result.

The shares fell as much as 6.4% in New York and remain down about 21% for the year to date, despite a recovery from their March lows.

United and its English rivals have resumed training under instruction from the Premier League to maintain social-distancing. Six people from three clubs in the division were shown to have contracted Covid-19 this week after 748 players and staff were tested.

The league had previously targeted June 12 as a possible date for fixtures to resume, but the restart is now expected to be pushed back, the BBC reported.