IN GOLF, there’s a well-worn saying — driving is for show but putting is for dough.
In business, there is another phrase — turnover is vanity and profit is sanity.
I thought it was time to compare two Premier League heavyweights — Liverpool and Manchester United — on and off the pitch.
The clubs, who have both enjoyed long periods of dominance in English football, survive without the intervention of oligarchs or Gulf states.
Yes, we’ve seen Tottenham move into elite status with world-record profits and the rise of Manchester City (however legitimate that may or may not be), as well as the decline of the once imperious Arsenal.
As Liverpool finally close in on that elusive first Premier League title, their finances reach new levels in turnover and profit.
And what of their old rivals? Despite United boasting the biggest turnover in 2017-18, they are in fact not a hugely profitable club.
Observing this feels like kicking sand in the face of United.
This monolithic club, with one of the largest turnovers in world football, are perceived as the biggest club in the world with a valuation of around £3billion.
Throw in United’s iconic lustre during the Premier League era and they are its proverbial poster boy.
Yet in reality pitching the 2020 Manchester United against Liverpool is to highlight one club in complete ascendancy despite a 30-year wait for the title.
They are the yin and yang of English football, in order for one to be successful, the other has to be in decline.
There is no room for both at the top table.
Liverpool are everything United once were — the leading English team with the best manager, best players, best acquisition policy, best ownership, best commercial strategy and now the best financial stronghold.
Liverpool made £100million profit in the financial year before last and £40m this year.
United, with their illustrious history and swaggering dominance, never recorded anything like these numbers except in 2012-13, where a tax credit of £155m allowed an overall profit of £146m.
Liverpool reached the half-a-billion mark in turnover per year.
That’s up with Manchester United but the Merseyside team are far more profitable. In the last five years, United’s turnover total was £2.7bn, with paltry profits of £56m.
Whereas Liverpool, with £750m less in turnover, made four times as much — with £224m of profit.
Some of the profit reduction is the £120m United paid on financing the debt brought on by the Glazers’ leveraged purchase.
Everything about John W Henry’s ‘Moneyball’ approach makes United look like rank amateurs. This is a fact summed up their respective dugouts.
Liverpool have the proven winner Jurgen Klopp, while United — with their tip to past glories — have the former manager of relegated Cardiff and the all-conquering Norwegians Molde, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
United’s squad have a current market value of around £800m, whereas Liverpool are probably closer to a £1bn.
Liverpool, of course, are just about to win the title in record time with record points.
The future looks as if it is very much the red of Liverpool’s shirts rather than the red faces of those running Manchester United, who are stealing defeat from the jaws of financial victory.
And in doing so perhaps condemning the club to a generation of noses pressed up against the window of success from their biggest rival.
- Simon Jordan’s Final Word is on talkSPORT on Sunday from 5-8pm.
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