Manchester United’s Football Sponsorship Muscle

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Ever since the Glazer family took over Manchester United in 2005, they have looked at taking advantage of the team’s vast global appeal. By signing lucrative sponsorship deals and maximizing the club’s earning potential, the Glazers have turned Manchester United into the first sports team to be valued at $3 billion. The more impressive fact is that all of this has been achieved while maintaining United’s place at the summit of English football.

Manchester United recently agreed sponsorship deals with Japanese company Kansai, a Chinese construction bank, and the car company Chevrolet. These sponsorship deals add to an already impressive arsenal of partner companies. It appears as though the club’s commercial directors are showing no signs of slowing down. Every week a new sponsorship deal is agreed, increasing the club’s profile in the process.

A recent deal with Japanese energy drink company Wahaha further highlights United’s global reach. They recently acquired Japanese star Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund, which will further entice Japanese sponsors to partner with United. In the past, South Korean star Ji-Sung Park was praised for having huge commercial value to Manchester United. In the 1990’s and early 2000’s, it was David Beckham who was the chief promoter of Manchester United merchandise.

One of United’s best deals came with Nike in 2002. The two powerhouse brands agreed a 13 year £303 million deal that will expire in 2015. Chances are that United will renegotiate that deal at close to double its current value. This will add even more money to the coffers, which can be spent on interest payments, wages, or transfer fees for top talent.

In August of 2009, Manchester United announced a shirt sponsorship deal with insurance giants AON. This deal was to the tune of £80 million over the course of 5 seasons. That comes up to £20 million a year, and it was the highest sponsorship deal at the time.

This summer, the English giants announced they had agreed a deal with Chevrolet to take over their shirt sponsorship from the 2014/2015 season. This seven year deal is valued at an incredible £57 million a season. Not only is that the highest sponsorship deal ever agreed, but it is more than double the next highest deal.

A brief look at Manchester United’s global sponsors highlights just how much money the team makes from commercial deals. The list is a who’s who of the world’s best and most respected companies. The team is associated with success and that brand recognition is what they offer to sponsors.

A recent survey concluded that Manchester United are the world’s biggest supported sports team, surpassing the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, the Brazilian national team, and the New York Yankees. A huge part of that following is from south and south-east Asia. By tapping into Indian, Chinese, and Japanese companies, Manchester United have found a wealth of sponsorship money that will stand them in good stead for the coming years.

If someone had suggested there would be a $3 billion sports franchise 10 years ago, most of us would have laughed. Now it is not inconceivable to think that Manchester United will hit the $4 billion mark in the next 15-20 years. As long as they can maintain their success on the field, there is nothing to stop them from further expanding their commercial juggernaut.

Manchester United Sponsors List

Thomas Cook
Turkish Airlines
Mister Potato

For a full list of sponsors, visit the Manchester United sponsors webpage