Manchester United is considering offering limited sponsorship rights to its brand in the United States and China, according to The Daily Telegraph newspaper.
For British football clubs, the decision would be groundbreaking as current sponsorship deals aren’t marketed separately in different countries around the world.
One of the reasons for Man United pursuing the limited sponsorship rights deal overseas is their goal to become the richest club in the world. Real Madrid is currently number one, while Man United will be number two when they announce this Friday a record revenue of £245 million.
For Man United fans and neutral supporters, the intentions to market Man United separately under limited sponsorship deals in the United States will be good news because it increases the likelihood that Manchester United may return for pre-season friendlies, so they can promote their club.
How the limited sponsorship deal would work is a good question, though. For example, I can envision a series of summer friendlies in the United States with marketing around “Manchester United’s tour of America, brought to you by Ford.”
But when the club is not playing in the United States, the opportunity for corporations in the United States to take advantage of a limited sponsorship deal will be challenging. I can picture TV and print ads with some type of advertisement pushing a specific product while using images and the Man United name. But other than the viewers who watch the core soccer networks in the U.S. (Fox Soccer Channel, GolTV and Setanta Sports), I don’t think the public will care.
Ironically, three of Man United’s major sponsors are already U.S. companies: AIG, Nike and Budweiser.