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United is sportís most powerful brand - report

Mon 26th Sep 2011 | Money & Finance

Manchester United has been ranked as the most valuable sporting team in the world, according to the findings of a new report.

Analysis from advisory firm Brand Finance has outlined that the Barclays Premier League champion’s brand value has more than doubled under the controversial stewardship of the Glazer family.

According to the report, published in The Times, United’s brand value has risen from £197 million in 2005 to £412 million. Indeed, United is now said to stand sixth in the list of the most recognisable brands in the world, behind only Google, Apple, the BBC, Dyson and Facebook.

Brand Finance says the Glazer family has applied National Football League (NFL) marketing experience – from its ownership of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – to United, utilising a policy of “on field performance underpins financial success”. Dave Chattaway, head of sports brand valuation for Brand Finance, said: “One of the key success factors of the Glazers is the fact they have been able to retain the club’s ultimate ‘brand manager’ Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Glazers have given Ferguson the resources and space necessary for him to deliver consistent on pitch success, which feeds the off-pitch expertise. From the heated takeover to the Green and Gold campaign, it’s not been an easy ride for the Glazers, but a successful listing (in Singapore) will only further cement the value they have engineered. The proceeds will allow them to wipe out debt, retain control and provides the family with a perfect exit route from Manchester with a tidy return.”

United this month reported record full year profit and revenue figures in a move that will strengthen its hand ahead of its mooted partial stock market flotation in Singapore. Financial results for the year ending June 2011 outlined annual operating profits of £110.9 million, while revenue increased to £334.1 million, up £45 million on the previous year. Headline pre-tax profit came in at £29.7 million, compared with a loss of £15 million last year.

Turnover in all three major business areas increased over last year with the most marked improvement coming in commercial revenue, which rose from £81.4 million to £103.4 million. This was assisted with the introduction of United’s £80 million shirt sponsorship deal with Aon Corp and is likely to increase again thanks to significant recent deals such as DHL’s £40 million training kit partnership.

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