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TV, sponsors to push Man Utd revenues to new highs

Rain clouds gather above Manchester United's Carrington training complex in Manchester September 16, 2013. United are set to play German side Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League on Tuesday. REUTERS/Phil Noble

By Keith Weir

LONDON (Reuters) - New sponsorship and broadcast deals are expected to drive record revenues for English football champions Manchester United in 2013-14 and enable them to keep pace with European rivals including Real Madrid and Barcelona.

United, controlled by the American Glazer family, forecast revenues would rise to between 420 and 430 million pounds ($668-684 million) in the year to next June. That was based on the team finishing at least third in the English Premier League and reaching the quarter-finals of Europe's Champions League and domestic cups.

United were already Britain's richest football club and will benefit from enhanced Premier League TV rights deals that began last month and new club sponsorship deals including a particularly lucrative one with General Motors.

Madrid are the only football club to have so far broken the 500 million euro ($668 million) revenue barrier but their Spanish rivals Barcelona expect to do so this season.

United listed on the New York Stock Exchange last year, a long way from their home in northern England. The stock has risen from its flotation price of $14 to trade at over $17, valuing the club at around $2.8 billion.

In a separate statement, United signalled they may seek to raise up to $400 million through fresh sales of shares although there was no time frame set for any fundraising.

Executive Vice Chairman Ed Woodward said the club had met its targets since its flotation last year, helped by the team winning England's top football division for a record 20th time before manager Alex Ferguson retired.

"Our commercial business continues to be a very powerful engine of growth enabling the team to continue to be successful," said Woodward, a former investment banker who has just stepped up to the top executive role.

David Moyes had the tough task of succeeding Ferguson, the most successful manager in English football.

Woodward and Moyes have already faced criticism after Belgian midfielder Marouane Fellaini was the club's sole high-profile recruit during the recent transfer window.

Revenues in the year to June 2013 came in at 363.2 million pounds, just ahead of the club's forecast. Profit was 108.6 million pounds, excluding items such as interest and tax payments. ($1 = 0.6288 British pounds) ($1 = 0.7491 euros)

(Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by Kate Holton and Pravin Char)