Manchester United and Gulf Oil International have identified China as integral to the future success of their global partnership.

The two industry leaders celebrated their rich history at an event in Shanghai, setting out a clear, forward-looking vision for a successful relationship with one of the world’s largest economies.

United are currently in China for Tour 2016, presented by Aon, preparing for the 2016/17 season. First-team players took time out of their training schedule to attend the event, celebrating the partnership between Gulf and United. United great Denis Irwin also represented the club, alongside commercial director Jamie Reigle, who paid tribute to the Reds’ special relationship with China.

Joining Manchester United were selected guests, executives from Gulf China and Frank Rutten, Vice President of Gulf Oil International.

The partnership between United and Gulf was launched earlier this year, securing the club’s first Official Global Lubricant Oil and Fuel Retail Partner.

The three-year agreement is enabling Gulf, a Hinduja Group company, to engage with United’s worldwide family of fans, including its 325 million followers in Asia, which Gulf sees as a major area of focus.  Its rapidly-developing business in China is complemented by growth in the Middle East and Indonesia.

Both partners are also proud of their histories. Guests were greeted by a ‘Wall of History’ at today’s event, reflecting the proud heritage of Manchester United and Gulf Oil International; journeys which for each have lasted more than 100 years.

Manchester United commercial director Jamie Reigle comments: “We have been proud to underline our continued commitment to China both on and off the football pitch. We enjoy the passionate and loyal support of more than 100 million followers here, making this the country with more Manchester United fans than any other in the world.

“It has been very exciting to be joined by Gulf in this effort; it clearly sees China as a focal point for future growth. We complement each other too; we are both proud of our history but equally equipped with a clear vision for the future, including how we maximise the great opportunities in China.

“Gulf’s very impressive strategy for China is naturally focused on its own industry and we are here preparing for the season ahead. We have been impressed by the government’s drive to make this a footballing powerhouse and are exploring opportunities for future co-operation. Our fundamental message, however, is the same; we are industry leaders who believe in a partnership achieving mutual growth. We are better together, when we stand United.“

Gulf Oil International’s vice president Frank Rutten said: “Our partnership with Manchester United has brought together two brands with incredible heritage and a great future together – and I see many parallels between us.

“Manchester United recently took an historic 12th FA Cup win, while Gulf continues to make its own history – scoring three years of 20% growth in branded lubricants.

“And just as United is gearing up for the future – having signed a couple of stellar names, both in the managing and playing area, Gulf is also strengthening its hand, especially here in Asia, where we have just broken ground on a new world class lubricants factory. I remain incredibly excited about the prospect of us both moving forward together.”