Promoted Sheffield United values China investment

Sheffield United plc, the UK-listed football, property and leisure services company owning the newly promoted English Premier League club, has announced preliminary results for the year ended 30 June 2006. Turnover increased 109% to £27.2 million (2005: £13.0 million), showing growth in all business divisions. However, the cost of Premiership promotion resulted in an increase in player and football management wages of £5.6 million, comprising promotion bonus payments of £2.3 million and increased basic wages of £3.3 million, contributing to an operating loss before interest of £6.2 million (2005: £0.6 million). Player acquisitions for the English Championship squad that gained promotion totalled £5.3 million including £3.2 million that will be paid after 30 June 2006, but is still accounted for in the period under review. The club transfer record was broken twice in the year.

Apart from promotion to the Premier League the year saw many other developments including the completion of the purchase of the renamed Chengdu Blades FC in China. This team has performed well compared to previous seasons and presently lies in fourth position in the national second division. Off the field of play, the clubs efforts have been concentrated on commercializing operations in the China, seeing the opening in September of a Blades Bar in the city centre and a retail store adjoining the stadium.

Owning Chengdu's football club alongside Sheffield United's much improved international profile is proving beneficial in establishing a strong relationship with members and officials of the local government in the area which will assist the group in the forward planning of potential real estate transactions which may be undertaken in the coming years, Soccer Investor reported.