One Creative announced today their thoughts on the development of Manchester United's Asian plan. When the United team were travelling to America and Europe, club leaders were working towards their commercial growth in Asia. Developing the three-way earning model, focusing on match earning, media earning and commercial earning, the club hopes to get the most out of the Asian market. Both the recent launch of United's Chinese website and their tour of Asia, playing friendlies in Hong Kong, China and South Korea emphasise this ambition.
Website Launch is the First Step
During the Chinese website launching ceremony on July 14, 2005, United's Business Development Manager Vange Kourentis said, "Although we can not copy fully Manchester United's earning model in Asia, some of it can be adhered to, such as commercial alignment and digital commerce."
Mr Kourentis and Mr Chen Qi Yu, CEO of China.com, also announced together that the Traditional Chinese website and Simplified Chinese website were to be launched formally at the same time. Prior to its formal launch United fans could still view website content.
According to the terms of the agreement, China.com has been appointed as Manchester United's exclusive partner and provider of Internet and mobile applications and services for the People's Republic of China and Taiwan, and its exclusive partner and provider of Internet applications and services for Hong Kong and Macau. Their responsibilities include the website and management.
Based on the website introduction, United's Official Chinese Website manunited.com.cn will offer all of the latest Manchester United news, including latest team news, exclusive player interviews, match statistics, scores & match schedules, team and player profiles, as well as membership information for the Official United membership club -- "One United" -- for Greater China football fans. Interactive features include chartrooms, downloads, online games and an e-shopping platform.
In recent years, Manchester United has launched the "MU Fans Federation," "MU Sky," and other websites, which have already become "money making machines" for the Club. According to data, website earnings of United reached GBP700,000 and GBP1,400,000 in 2002 and 2003, respectively. In 2004, their internet earnings reached over GBP2,000,000. Reasons for the increase here include more and more people using the Internet, as well as the on-line football gambling and e-business increasing rapidly. "We made a significant amount of money through internet business last year," Vange Kourentis said.
Manchester United's Money Earning Method
It is well known throughout the industry that there is no lack of famous football clubs in England, including Chelsea, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Arsenal. However, Manchester United is the super earning machine of them all. It is a real global power and international brand.
The total earning of United achieved GBP1.691 billion, with pre-tax profits of GBP27,900,000. The gross profit is GBP58,300,000 before deductions from inflation and the pay out of team members. Due to bad match results, United lost GBP14,000,000 in the rebroadcast of the Champions League. In the beginning of this year, the earning report of Deloitte shows that Manchester United's earnings is No.1 of all football clubs. This being for the eight consecutive year.
Recently, Manchester United CEO David Gill said, "Our aim is to become the best football team forever, both on the pitch and off it. We are the most successful football club."
Asian Commercial Plan
United's Commercial Director Andy Anson, said, "According to United statistics, United has some 94,000,000 fans worldwide, with 20,000,000 fans in China." At the same time, United stars C. Roanaldo and Wayne Rooney held online discussions with Chinese Football fans through the Official Chinese website. He said football fans are the biggest assets of Manchester United.
"The number of fans has reached 40,000,000 in Asia. Asia, especially the Chinese market, is looked upon as the most important market in the world by United." According data from the Chinese Football Association, Chinese football fans number 110 million. United will aim at this group first.
Andy Anson also said, "We hope to develop the whole series of commercial corporation and services. The next step -- we want to provide our product and services, including Visa cards and the Manchester Untied official Football Fans Club. We are also looking for more business partners. In China, China.com is our business partner. All our successful cooperation provides the most popular product and services, and they can help us to become a kind of sizable and fashionable economic domino effect. Depending on all of them, we can provide a full series of products and services."
According to their commercial plan, they may consider financial services to be the next step. United could provide some financial services to the Japanese market, such as VISA cards. They could also provide content services and media management by cooperating with TV & radio stations, Websites and publishing companies.
Of course, there is another reason to speed-up United's interest in the Chinese market. On the morning of the 17th May 2005, American magnate Malcolm Glazer held a 75.5% interest in Manchester United, with a higher stake pending. United has now become the private estate of Malcolm Glazer. For the family, the urgent affairs of United are to repay the billion-dollar debt that it took to purchase the club.