LONDON – The social media frenzy surrounding Alexis Sanchez’s high-profile move to Manchester United dwarfed interest shown when Neymar moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward said on Thursday.
Sanchez joined United from Premier League rivals Arsenal last month in a deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan go the other way, and has made an immediate impact on and off the pitch, scoring on his home debut and setting a new record for shirt sales.
“Alexis Sanchez has set a new January signing record in terms of shirt sales – three times that previous record,” Woodward said in United’s earnings report conference call for the second quarter of the 2017-18 financial year.
“Last month, we further invested in the future of the club by extending Jose Mourinho’s contract and entering into an exchange agreement with Arsenal swapping Mkhitaryan for Sanchez, strengthening Jose’s attacking options.”
He said the signing generated some striking social media statistics.
“It was the biggest United post on Instagram with two million likes and comments, the most shared United Facebook post ever, the most retweeted United post ever and #Alexis7 was the number one trending topic on Twitter worldwide,” said Woodward.
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“To put all that into context, the announcement posts generated 75 percent more interaction than the sale of the world’s most expensive player last summer, when Neymar moved from Barcelona to PSG.”
United, second in the Premier League, blamed US President Donald Trump’s corporate tax reforms as the reason for a £29 million second-quarter loss to the end of December 2017, despite a boom in broadcast income.
American-owned United said an exceptional “accounting write-off of £48.8 million” had been made, with the US corporate tax rate set to tumble from 35 percent to 21 percent following Trump’s substantive enactment of US tax reform in December.
Several large corporations have signalled that the law will result in a short-term hit on earnings repatriated from overseas and due to revaluation of assets.
United, who recently retained their place at the top of Deloitte’s Money League, saw broadcast income rise 17.3 percent to £61.6 million, thanks in large part to the club’s return to the Champions League.
Total revenue for the quarter was up nearly four percent from last year to £163.9 million.
Another wave of TV cash could be around the corner, with bids for a new three-year cycle for Premier League TV rights in Britain from 2019-2022 to be presented on Friday.
The Premier League is aiming to build on the record £5.14 billion three-year domestic television deal with Sky Sports and BT Sport, which runs until 2019.
In a bid to keep the price of rights rising and encourage potential other bidders such as tech giants Amazon and Facebook, 200 games will be broadcast live, up from 168 in the current deal, in a range of packages.
The expected bonanza from both for domestic and overseas TV rights saw English clubs spend a record £430 million in the January transfer window.
United’s latest financial figures do not include Sanchez’s deal, but wages did increase by 9.4 percent to £69.6 million, also in part caused by bonuses resulting from the club’s Champions League return.