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Commercial strategy boosts United


It has often been argued that the business model followed by the Glazers at Manchester United is doomed to failure.   However, Ed Woodward, the Glazers' London-based adviser, and in effect their representative on Earth, thinks that there is a case to be argued in their favour (as he would).

Nevertheless, there is a case to be made.   Woodward believes that the big advantage the Americans possess is an ability to discover and exploit new markets for sports franchises.  Annual commercial income has risen from £50m to £120m during their five years in charge, and that is only a beginning.

United have identified almost 100 kinds of products with potential for sponsorship, many of them far from obvious.   In Thailand you can buy a Manchester United motor scooter which makes some sense given their popularity there.  

Rather more obscure is the fact that a company in Japan is the club's official marine diesel engine partner.   Quite when the team might use a boat is unclear as one can hardly see them venturing out on the Manchester Ship Canal.   Perhaps there might be scope for a sponsored hovercraft: I have seen them used on the pitch in Australian rules games.

The club have also been very clever in dividing deals for some products by country.   Rather than earn, say, £3m from a global mobile phone partner, United have secured £21m from separate arrangements in 44 countries.