Glazers to underline commitment
The Glazer family are primed to make a definitive statement confirming they have no plans to sell Manchester United when the club's quarterly financial figures are announced on Friday, according to ESPNsoccernet sources.
It will be a major shock if the Glazers fail to reaffirm their total commitment to the club in the wake of persistent rumours they will sell out to the Qatar royal family in a £1.6 billion takeover deal.
The quarterly accounts are set to also underline why the Glazers would be reluctant to sell Manchester United for much less than £2 billion, as commercial enterprises showing a meaningful rise.
Meanwhile, the club has moved to correct recent figures detailed in articles based on a report by business analysts Sport+Markt.
The figures, suggesting the club's retail revenue is down by 10%, are based on the accounts of Manchester United Merchandising Limited and as a result represent the sales in just one store - namely the megastore at the club's Old Trafford stadium, which saw a 10% drop in the number of games played at the stadium from 32 to 29.
United's commercial director Richard Arnold said: "The results of our merchandising business have continued to set records within the club, despite the figures for 2009 including 10% more games at Old Trafford, and the impact of winning the Premier League and appearing in two Champions League finals. The business has continued to grow in 2010.
"To achieve that result using figures based only around stadium sales is remarkable. When sales from the rest of Manchester, the UK and Europe are added to those figures, it's a clear demonstration of the unique strength the club has.
"In addition, the report represents an area of the world which contains only one in 14 of our 333 million global fans. The remaining 93% because they are largely based in an area of rapid commercial growth, such as China, the USA, India and Indonesia, have meant that 2010 was a record year for our partnership with Nike.
"This season, following the launch of the new Nike/Aon branded shirt, has seen sales far in excess of previous years, resulting in sell-outs in many shops around the world.
"Merchandising is just one part of our very successful commercial strategy, which has seen those revenues increase from £42.5 million in 2005 to £81.4 million in 2010."
There is no question that United's appeal remains strong, the brand continuing to be a commercial success, despite an escalating wage bill, and the need for reinvestment in the team with Gary Neville and Edwin van der Sar having announced the end of their playing careers and Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs unlikely to play on beyond the end of next season.
However, it is being estimated that United will be the first club in the world to break the £100 million a year barrier for commercial profits - and this quarterly financial report could indicate that this might be the year they achieve it thanks to their Nike partnership.