The fans of the English Premier League’s Manchester United have had plenty to crow about over the years: a club World Cup title in 2008, the most Premier League division titles (19) and most Premier League titles (12), among many other awards.
Its rabid fan base, some of which were frighteningly captured in Bill Buford’s excellent Among the Thugs, now has something else to chant about: Man U., which already calls itself "the world's most popular football team," has been declared the most valuable sports team in the world, according to Marketing Week in the UK.
“The Premier League club’s brand value has increased 109% from 2005 to £412 million ($639 million) in 2011,” according to a Brand Finance report, Marketing Week reports. The key has been that the Glazer family, who own the team, have brought marketing knowledge to the team from their work as owners of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In the last year, the site notes, the team “reported a record annual operating profit of £110.9 milion ($172 million) this year.” One of those strategies has been signing on with global partners such as Aon, Nike, Audi, Turkish Airlines, and DHL. Those partners pay a collective £110 million ($170.7 million) annually to be associated with Man U., the site notes.
The club has also increased its revenue through domestic and international media deals as well, Marketing Week reports. Some think the Glazers have actually damaged the club, though.
The Manchester United Supporters Trust, a lobbying group that opposes the Glazers’ ownership of the club, “says it is the team’s success on the pitch and the commercial department’s achievements in securing deals, rather than the Glazers that have built its brand value,” according to the site.
However they did it, the Glazers are now sitting on top of a very valuable commodity, one that is truly a global brand.