Manchester United: Fan Power!

Hello everyone,
When football fans raise their voice smartly and take charge of the future of their loved club, they must be taken seriously. Manchester United fans are the perfect illustration. After launching a football apparel range to protest against the Glazer management, the MUST (Manchester United Supporters Trust) recently signed a deal with Sharp to sponsor the latest alternative team shirt.

MUST was not joking. The group wants the Glazer family out of Manchester United business. After launching an apparel range, the Manchester United Supporters Trust put the 2nd gear and signed a sponsorship deal with Sharp. The electronic company was sponsoring Man Utd from 1982 to 2000 and has a strong history with Sir Alex Ferguson’s club.

This initiative outlines 3 main points:
1. Manchester United fans are aware and acknowledge the power of a football shirt sponsorhip. It must be said that the proceeds from the sale of the shirt will go to the Prostate Cancer Charity
2. MUST is consistant in its approach to give Man Utd its forgotten values with an iconic sponsor
3. It’s not a “flexing muscle” exercise, it’s showing how powerful fans can be when they stick together for ONE cause

MUST says “it wants to build partnerships with brands looking to connect directly with fans” after agreeing a deal with Sharp to sponsor the latest alternative team shirt. The group wants Sharp to join a portfolio of alternative brands keen to align themselves with fans rather than the club’s owner, the Glazer family.

This initiative also raises the question of the position of the official Manchester United kit supplier: Nike. Difficult one for the Oregon based firm. In between two chairs! On one hand business relationships with a top global football club and on the other hand, powerful fans, who buy merchandise….

I couldn’t find official numbers of MUST merchandise, so it’s difficult to say whether it takes revenue away from the club’s current owner and official sponsor. However, let’s keep in mind that the official Man Utd merchandise is sold worldwide. Also, Manchester United Home shirt is one of the world’s best selling football shirt with (circa) 1.5 million units sold! So I doubt that the unofficial merchandise will trigger Nike’s upper management to break the deal with Manchester United, but I believe they keep on strong scrutiny on this issue. I would.

MUST is also lobbying official sponsors such as AON and Nike. A spokesman for the group says: “In effect we’re asking them [existing sponsors] and potential sponsors to choose between the fans or the Glazers.”

The green and gold top is the second alternative team shirt to be released. Proceeds from the first went to the British Heart Foundation.

Karl Lusbec

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