Man United hires Iris in global youth initiative

Manchester United FC is launching an international youth marketing

programme, which could include the creation of a global fan club.



The Premier League champions have appointed youth specialist agency Iris

to help develop a series of initiatives aimed at making the Manchester

United brand more accessible to young people.



Spearheaded by the club's marketing director, Peter Draper, the project

will mark the most significant attempt yet by United to market itself on

a global stage.



The creation of a global fan club would allow Manchester United's

commercial partners, such as Vodafone, McVitie's Jaffa Cakes, Pepsi and

Allsports, to leverage their sponsorship of the club by promoting their

brands directly to young fans.



"We have a strong following among youngsters, both boys and girls.

However, we believe we can do more to harness the worldwide enthusiasm

for the club, particularly from children in the seven-to-teenager age

bracket," said Draper.



"Our commercial partners are all interested in maximising their

relationship with the club and these target markets. We have appointed

Iris to help us develop programmes which can achieve that," he

added.



United has a supporter base of millions around the world, and has run

lucrative pre-season tours of the Far East, where David Beckham is seen

as a hero.



The club has also opened retail outlets and cafes in countries such as

Malaysia and China.



News of the youth marketing initiative comes in the week that United

retained its status as the world's wealthiest football club. The annual

Deloitte & Touche/SportBusiness Rich List for the 1999-2000 season

reveals that United's turnover of £117m was £13m above its

nearest rival, Spanish giants Real Madrid.



The report also shows that English football is the most affluent in the

world, with seven Premiership clubs in the top 20.



United has recently unveiled plans to diversify into financial services

in a bid to boost its income from supporters.



The club has a deal with Nike to supply its kit as well as other

partnerships with firms such as money transfer business Western Union.

It also has a marketing agreement with the New York Yankees baseball

team.



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