Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughUnited "most popular club in the world"; world shrugs shoulders - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough United "most popular club in the world"; world shrugs shoulders - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

United “most popular club in the world”; world shrugs shoulders

It was Mark Twain (or Benjamin Disraeli or someone else entirely) that coined the term “there are three kind of lies; lies, damned lies and statistics”.

On this subject, Manchester United today announced that they remain the most popular football club on the planet and have, in fact, doubled their global fan base in the last five years to a staggering 659 million people which works out that one in every eleven human beings across the globe is a “follower” of United. This is a rise of 98% from the last relatable survey published back in 2007.

The survey showed that of that 659 million, 173 million “followers” were from the Middle East and Africa, 325 million from the Asia Pacific region and 108 million in China. UK-based United fans only make up 1% of the total figures according to United.

You can see why I led with that Twain quote now eh?

The survey was conducted by agency KantarSport with United’s commercial director describing the methodology of the survey as such; “The survey was independently conducted by one of the world’s leading agencies. Just the people we surveyed would fill the stadium at Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester City. These are people who, unprompted, named Manchester United as the team they followed. There is a huge spectrum of what constitutes a follower.”

So, that works out that the number of people surveyed would be 50,000 at an absolute maximum (the capacity of the Etihad is 47.805) and then the results of this date would, presumably, be extrapolated onto the total population for the respective regions.

The flaws in this particular technique of data gathering are numerous; what constitutes a “follower”, the sample size of a survey is never big enough to prove reliable figures particularly of the size published in the survey and so on.

United have focused a huge amount of resources onto the global widening of their brand with tours of the USA and the Far East (and planned tours of South Africa and China this summer), deals with Nike and Aon and a 80-person strong London office selling United to regional media and telecoms groups across the world to grow their reach. The Guardian estimates this has fuelled commercial revenue income by a further £100m a year.

Whilst 679 million people probably won’t be buying replica United shirts anytime soon (and if they do, they’ll probably look a bit like these), the ability to put “world’s most popular club” as your USP might be useful when marketing your brand across the world to increase those all important commercial revenues; which is important when your club needs to pay back £42.5m in interest every nine months.



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