Man U is world’s ‘most valuable’ sports brand

Manchester United is now ranked as the “most valuable sporting team in the world” as its brand value has more than doubled under the Glazer family’s ownership, according to a report.

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The Premier League club’s brand value has increased 109% from 2005 to £412m in 2011, according to analysis from advisory firm Brand Finance.

Brand Finance says the Glazer family has applied US National Football League marketing experience – from their ownership of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – to Manchester United, using a policy of “on field performance underpins financial success” to the grow the club.

In the 2010/11 season, Manchester United became the most successful team in English football history, having won the Premier League 19 times.

The club reported a record annual operating profit of £110.9m this year, strengthening its bid to float on the Singapore stock exchange.

The Manchester United brand represents more than 20% of its £2bn proposed IPO valuation, the report says. The proceeds from a successful listing will allow the Glazers to clear some of the club’s debt, which stood at £308.3m this year.

In their six year tenure owning the club, the Glazers have signed a number of commercial deals. Manchester United now has more than 20 global partners – including Nike, Aon, Audi and DHL – who together pay £110m a year to be affiliated with the club.

Media is also a growing revenue stream for Manchester United, with income from domestic and international deals increasing 150% to £120m in the period under the Glazers’ ownership.

Their tenure, however, has been controversial, with many fans criticising the amount of debt that the leveraged buy out saddled the club with.

The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), the lobbying group that opposes the Glazers’ ownership of the club, says it is the team’s success on the pitch and the commercial department’s achievements in securing deals, rather than the Glazers that have built its brand value.

MUST chief executive Duncan Drasdo says: “Credit where credit is due but the rise in brand value has little to do with the Glazers and no doubt many would argue they have actually damaged the club and the brand.”

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