Written by Varun Shah
Disclaimer: I am an Arsenal fan. It feels weird writing something solely about rivals but one has to appreciate if the other side does a good job and Manchester United have, probably not this season, definitely not last season but over the years to build a footballing brand like none other. Manchester United Football Club or as I sometimes like to call them Manure, have something that no other club can boast, that is unparalleled brand value. Let’s not kid ourselves as football purists, but money is the most important thing in football nowadays, in order to succeed over a long period of time you need it, although having it is not a guarantee of success.
Records suggest that over the past few years, the highest net spenders in Premier League football have been Man city, Man utd, Arsenal and Chelsea. Clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester city have owners with a net worth of $13.1 billion, $22.7 billion and $26 billion respectively, therefore it may not be unusual to see those clubs at the top of the charts. Man utd, on the other hand have been owned by the Glazer family for as long as I can remember who are valued at $ 4.9 billion which comparatively is lesser net worth. This begs the question as to how man united have managed to spend obscene amounts of money year on year and not go broke. The secret behind Man Utd’s riches is only one factor and that is brand value. Even a layman knows what Manchester United is, if one has heard of English football, more often than not it is Man Utd that the person has heard of. We may criticize them for having fans who still think Ronaldo is at Man Utd but each and every one of those fans are a customer to the club and there are millions of them around the world. Every time they buy merchandise, they contribute to the brand that is Man utd. Manchester United are the most followed English club on Social Media with 73 million Facebook followers on their page, compare that with Arsenal(38 million), Chelsea (48 million), Man city (24 million) and Liverpool( 24 million) and it tells you how much of a following Man utd have(I’d put Tottenham up but that would just be laughable at 8 million). They also have two huge kit sponsorship deals, one with Chevrolet and one with Adidas, over 7 years and 10 years respectively. The Chevrolet deal is in total worth $559 million and the Adidas one in total worth 750 million pounds. Arsenal’s and Man city’s deals couldn’t compete with these deals. Chelsea have just signed a deal very similar to Man Utd’s Adidas deal with Nike, but that is right now in 2017 and when they are champions of England and on the rise. To provide some context, Man utd signed these deals in 2014 when they has finished 7th in the league, they had sacked David Moyes and weren’t even in the champions league, consider those factors and inflation and Man United’s value is shown that even if they’ve had one of their worst years’ in the league, they still have a value because of the name Manchester United.
According to KPMG, Man United are the most valuable club on the planet at 3.095 billion euros, more than a healthy 1 billion above their closest English rivals’, Man city at 1.979 billion euros. They are ahead of Real Madrid and Barcelona who are considered to be the ‘biggest’ clubs on the planet but in terms of value of football clubs, they aren’t. A lot of credit goes to Ed Woodward, the Chief Executive of Man Utd who has managed to cut such deals that are beneficial to the club. Managers come and go, players come and go but the club remains and Manchester united have managed to remain as an elite club regardless of not having won the league since 2013. Another testament to their value as a club is the fact that they were able to bring in players like Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic last season even though they were not playing in the champions league. For players of that quality, playing at the top tier of European football is a must but such is the power and brand of Manchester United that they have managed to pull in two names that multiple elite clubs were fighting over. Another thing that has impressed me is the stadium Old Trafford. One may not speak much about it but Old Trafford is a masterclass, the “theatre of dreams” has been the home of Man Utd since 1910. It has undergone renovations and currently has a capacity of around 75000, the highest for an English football club, second is Arsenal at 60000. With Chelsea and Tottenham looking to relocate, they don’t realise what the team loses with a new stadium. A new stadium does bring in more revenue but it loses the feel of home. When Arsenal moved into the Emirates, even Thierry Henry said that he missed the old stadium Highbury which was like ‘home’. Man united have never had the need to change a stadium due to the fact that old Trafford has such a huge capacity. It has the ability to generate huge matchday revenue and also has the history and the consistent feel of home for Man Utd, it is one of those venues that a player would want to play at, it just builds a connection with the fans too, another football emotion that I cannot express in words to have a stadium with the history that old Trafford has, to play there is an achievement for any player.
As much as I dislike Manchester United, they probably have the best infrastructure of any football club on the planet, clubs with rich owners might lose their owners but a club with the foundation like Manchester United would not fade away.