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By Keith Weir
Feb 14 (Reuters) - Deals with new sponsors put English soccer club Manchester United on course to hit financial targets this year, matching the club's success on the pitch so far this season.
United, top of the Premier League, signed six new sponsorship deals with companies around the globe in the last three months of 2012, one of the busiest periods in the soccer calendar.
"Manchester United achieved record revenue and record adjusted EBITDA (underlying profit) in the second quarter driven by our commercial operation, which continues to experience extremely strong growth particularly in sponsorship," said club vice chairman Ed Woodward.
United had revenues of 110 million pounds ($171 million) in the three months to December 31 and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 50 million for the period, in line with analyst forecasts.
United claim to be the world's best supported soccer team with more than 650 million followers worldwide and has signed a series of sponsorship deals for everything from beer to paint in recent months to tap into fans' passion for the club.
The club repeated its forecast for revenue for the year to come in between 350 million and 360 million pounds, while EBITDA, its preferred measure of profit, was seen in the range of 107 million to 110 million.
United lead the Premier League by 12 points and appear certain to regain the title they lost to local rivals Manchester City on the final day of the season last May.
They drew 1-1 with Real Madrid in Spain last night as two of the world's richest clubs met in the first leg of a last 16 Champions League tie.
United shares have also taken flight on the New York Stock Exchange after a much criticised listing last August. They now trade at almost $19, up from the $14 listing price, and making the club worth more than $3 billion.
U.S. asset management company BlackRock has bought more than 8 percent of the floated shares, dispelling the notion that serious investors are not interested in soccer clubs.
The American Glazer family retain a tight hold on the club after the listing used a dual-share structure.