The Rich Loser: How Did Manchester United Maintain Its Popularity Despite The Failure? (Conclusion)

During part 1, I talked about Manchester United's early days all the way to the Ferguson era, this post will continue from there.


Ferguson's Sudden Entry

In his famous book, "Soccernomics", the British researcher Simon Kuper infers the managerial failure of football by the fact that most of the brilliant economic ideas that made football popular around the world came from outside the game. in other meaning; Even football men and administrators from the former players did not realize its economic value in the same way that businessmen, sponsors and advertisers from outside realized it.

One of the most important of these ideas was global television broadcasting. Cooper says that those in charge of the Premier League were ignorant of its real marketing value when they signed the first television broadcasting contract with the launch of the Premier League in its new form and name in 1992. Stop for a moment and imagine that the value of the first contract was 191 million sterling pounds before I told you that the increase in the next contract was 350 %, with a value of 670 million pounds sterling in the second cycle between 1997-2001.

What I mean here is that this explosion in the size of the follow-up and popularity of the Premier League coincided with the third awakening of Manchester United, or the fourth if their titles were counted at the beginning of the twentieth century, under the leadership of another Sir, Alexander Chapman Ferguson, the man who spent seven years forming his historic generation, to win the first Premier League title under its new name, followed by five other titles in the nineties, then seven more in the twenty-first century.

What this also means is that this sweep coincided in its longest period with Ed Woodward taking over the club after the Glazers' takeover was completed in 2005. Believe it or not; The most hated man in the history of Manchester United, who oversaw its decline season after season after Ferguson's retirement, was the same man who made his current commercial and marketing empire, which guaranteed him fantastic profits and returns, unrelated to performance on the field.

Indeed, no other club in England has come close to Manchester City's frantic spending on signings in recent seasons than Manchester United, and only because of what Woodward achieved from 2005-2013 until Ferguson's retirement. What happened next was nothing more than reaping the economic fruits that man had sown in almost all parts of the world.

Liverpool - United

Rowan Simons, one of the few scholars who has studied and written about Asian football, tells of a different concept of fanfare and loyalty in this continent. Rick Barry, chief executive of the Premier League in the 1990s and early 2000s, used to say that an English fan might change his wife, place of residence, or even his religion, but he would never change his allegiance to the football team.

In his book "Bamboo Goalposts," Simons describes the loyalty dynamic in Asia in reverse. There, the fan may belong to more than one club in the same country, and the worst thing is that he may combine support for Manchester United and Liverpool, for example, or Real Madrid and Barcelona, ​​​​or Juventus and Inter. We are talking about a pristine mass market that has not been touched by the historical sensitivities that created the enmities between these clubs, in which people are madly in love with football, but feel ignored at the same time.

Woodward was one of the first to realize this fact, and like television contracts that came from outside the game, it was Woodward, the former J.P. Morgan bank executive who helped the Glazers complete their acquisition of Manchester United, who first suggested launching tours for the team in Asia, and conquering the largest mass market in the planet with its products, slogans and stars, and establishing its feet there before the rest.

That particular step gave Manchester United huge precedence over the rest of Europe's top players who were, in 2005, still taking their first steps on the path of professional management, and later, Woodward's methods turned into the most important guide for senior clubs that sought to increase their sales and brand value, including clubs such as Bayern Munich, who sent the likes of Uli Hoeneß to learn from Manchester United's marketing and promotional techniques, then used them to gain the maximum possible advantage over Bundesliga clubs.

Five years after the takeover, the next stage of Woodward's plan is to carve out Manchester United's sponsorship rights across the world rather than sell them wholesale. Another genius idea that has been used by all commercial and economic institutions in different variations.

7 Billion Screens

If you watched the Community Shield match between Liverpool and Manchester City from Egypt, for example, you may have noticed the Housing and Development Bank advertisements that appeared during moments of the match. This bank does not have any institutional or economic presence outside Egypt, so why would it announce itself in a match like that watched by hundreds of millions around the world?

Answer: it simply does not, because the Premier League has sold the same ad space to dozens of different institutions, provided that these ads appear only in their countries, meaning that viewers from Europe will see another ad, another in Asia, and so on. This idea, which seems strange and fresh now, is the same idea that Woodward applied to all Manchester United sponsorship contracts nearly a full decade ago.

Naturally, when football clubs choose their partners and sponsors from the world of finance and business, they always seek to contract with the largest, most widespread and most famous companies, in order to raise their name and brand through the commercial and advertising link between them. Ed Woodward, the economics genius, decided to do the opposite, and then everyone imitated him.

Imagine that Manchester United contracts, for example, with one of the telecommunications giants in the world. This giant competes in the open global market, and this means that the contract with it will be exclusive, and therefore it will be the only partner for Manchester United in the field of communications. A single partner with a single contract for a single financial consideration.

What Ed Woodward did is that he replaced this global partnership with 44 local partners in 44 countries, each of whom does not operate outside the borders of its country, and this produced 44 sponsorship contracts at three times the value, instead of Manchester United getting 5-10 million pounds from one contract, he gets 21 million from 44 different contracts. Woodward's idea was simple, and it is the same idea that made fortunes like Mark Zuckerberg.

With the expansion of communication around the world, financial men realized that the goal was never to unify what billions watch on Facebook or Twitter, but on the contrary, to divide and classify them and give each of them what suits them. Ads, products and offers, lead to the ideal stage from an economic point of view, which is that each screen displays what is consistent with its owner to maximize gains through personalization.

This is exactly what Woodward did with Manchester United sponsorship contracts, and with time this became the prevailing approach, and the major clubs began to abandon their global partners who prevented them from expanding their base by dealing with their competitors, and that was the beginning of a new economic era in football, the era of Manchester United. One of its pioneers, and it seems that it will remain so.


Which football clubs have the most fans? Goal
Manchester United becomes first team valued at $3 billion - Forbes
After the death of Harry Gregg..Sir Bobby Charlton becomes the last surviving survivor of the Munich disaster - The Daily Mail
Who are the Busy Babes? Goal
The Busby Babes; In memory of the eight who fell in the Munich disaster - Skysports
book by sam bulger; Manchester United Treasures - Amazon
How does Manchester United exploit its brand in an exceptional and unique way? - Bleacher Report
Heysel Stadium disaster: "I watched the piles of bodies go up!" - The Guardian
Heysel; Liverpool and Juventus fans remember the disaster that claimed the lives of 39 fans - The Mirror
Soccernomics Book by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski - Amazon
The evolution of the value of Premier League broadcasting contracts between 1992 and 2019 – Statista
The Bamboo Giant Boosts book by LeRoan Simmons - Amazon
Bayern Munich Money Saving Tricks - Athletic Interest
Wealthy giant Manchester United adds insane profits to the Glazers and shareholders – Goal
No titles, but Manchester United is still the king of brands - Brand Finance
Manchester United growing attractive to advertisers and sponsors despite hardships on the field - Marketing Week


Back in 2009 I think it was, I watched Manchester United play a pre-season friendly against Hangzhou in East China. It was weird occasion because we had to scramble around to find tickets having been told that it was sold out, only to find that most of the tickets had been brought by touts who then failed to sell them on so the stadium was half empty. I believe it finished 8-2 to United