Question Leroy Business & Management

Manchester United in Asia

Why are Manchester United Asia's most popular football club?

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Answer Internal Staff

The popularity of Manchester United Football Club in Asia can be attributed to two primary reasons; Asian players playing for the club, and successfully marketing the club in Asian markets.

Park Ji-Sung and Shinji Kagawa are two Asian stars who have donned the famous red shirt at Old Trafford in their careers. These two players were both hugely popular in their respective home countries of South Korea and Japan. It has been observed through market research that Asian fans are less concerned with tribal club allegiances like in Europe, and that the popularity of football teams is dependent on player preferences, off-field activities and marketing (Hodge, Cited in Mumbrella, 2015). As these two players were so popular in their home countries this meant that a lot of their personal fans became Manchester United fans. Even though these players do not play for the club anymore, Asian fans are still connected with the club, which is why Manchester United is so popular.

The other reason Manchester United are so popular in Asia is because of their marketing activities. Ed Woodward, is the club’s Executive Vice Chairman and previous to this he was in charge of the club’s commercial and media operations. During his time, Ed has been credited with creating numerous partnerships between Manchester United and well-known brands in Asia (BBC, 2013). The Manchester United website lists all the commercial partners the club has (Man Utd, 2016). By partnering with well-known brands in Asia, Manchester United have been able to promote their brand to many more people. As they have more partners in Asia than other football clubs, this has made them more popular. As well as these partnerships, Manchester United often play pre-season friendly matches in Asia. This again helps them reach more people in Asia and become more popular.


BBC (2013). Man Utd's Ed Woodward: the man behind the Glazer financial plan. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23/08/16]

Man Utd (2016). Official Partners. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 23/08/16]

Mumbrella (2015). Man United is Asia’s most popular football club, but Lionel Messi is the region’s favourite player. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 23/08/16]