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
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