United defend glut of new sponsors

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By SAPA

London – Premier League giants Manchester United have dismissed suggestions that they have diluted their brand by announcing a glut of new sponsorship deals.

Just last week, United revealed they had signed agreements with Chinese firms Wahaha and China Construction Bank, as well a three-year partnership with Japanese paint manufacturer Kansai Paint.

A massive £357 million shirt sponsorship deal with American car manufacturer Chevrolet is also due to begin next year.

The income from sponsors has helped the 19-time English champions establish themselves as one of the richest teams in world sport.

United were ranked third behind Real Madrid and Barcelona in the latest Deloitte Football Money League published on Thursday, while their most recent annual results showed a 13.7 percent rise in commercial revenue to £117.6 million.

According to United marketing manager Jonathan Rigby, such figures demonstrate that the club are not over-extending themselves by accumulating multiple sponsorship deals.

“There is nothing of what we know of our own brand that suggests that is the case,” he said.

“We don't see that at all. We see an increase in growth in the vibrancy of our brand. In fact, we see the opposite. We see a fanbase that is growing, we see engagement levels growing, we see viewing figures continuing to grow.”

In fact, Rigby feels that United are yet to fulfil their full marketing potential.

“We don't know how far we can go,” he said. “We certainly don't think we are reaching a limit.

“It is a model that is working very well. The evidence I see every day is that our partners get a huge amount and are all able to get their own part of Manchester United.”

United have never finished lower than third in the table in the Premier League era, which has helped them to qualify for the lucrative Champions League season after season.

It has helped the club attract an estimated worldwide fanbase of 700 million, and Rigby believes those supporters would remain loyal even if the team's fortunes were to dip.

“We will always strive to be right at the top of our game but we feel the love of our fans for the club goes deeper; into its history, the success and the players, both now and in the past,” he said.

“Of course, success is important, but there its lots of evidence to suggest the fans will be with us forever.” – Sapa-AFP

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