The road through the wilderness has been long and arduous. There were times when all hope seemed gone. When it felt as though Manchester United — once the biggest and baddest around — would forever labour in the shadows of others. Would forever know the agony of close, but not quite.
No more, friends. No more. We bring glad tidings. Manchester United, once again, have won the league!
... what? Oh, no, not the Premier League. That old thing! No, Manchester United have won the Deloitte Money League, which we can all agree is far more important than any two-bit football tournament. All that running around, all that sweating. So ... gauche.
According to the report — over here, if you're having trouble sleeping — United are back on top:
for the first time since 2003/04 with record revenue of £515m. The top three clubs in this 20th edition of the Money League are the same as in our first edition in 1996/97 but Manchester United, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid in 2015/16 collectively generated over seven times the revenue they did then.
Apparently that £515m came about thanks to "strong commercial growth coupled with a return to UEFA Champions League football", so we can assume Louis van Gaal got a Christmas card from Ed Woodward.
Perhaps most interesting is the breakdown of exactly where all that money comes from. In 2015/16 United made £102.8m (20%) of their money from matchday income and £140.4m (27%) from broadcast revenue. The remaining £272.1m (53%) comes from "commercial" ventures, which is more than Real Madrid, Barcelona and even the mighty commercial juggernaut that is Bayern Munich, and dwarfs anybody else in England.
God bless official tractor partners! Huzzah! Huzzah!