Saturday, July 21, 2007

Global Brand Man Utd focuses on Asia and Africa

"This is Manchester United's first visit to Korea - and I am sure we will be coming back," Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of the English Premier League club said after his Red Devils beat K-League club FC Seoul 4-0 in a friendly. "The reception we have received here has been absolutely excellent. Everything about the trip has been first class. I used to think when we went to Thailand it was almost impossible because we had thousands inside and outside the hotel all night. We have experienced the same thing here. It doesn't surprise me. It is just one of these phenomenons we can create in certain parts of the world, " he said as quoted by PA.

"We consider ourselves a major global brand," said Ferguson."The club is prepared to travel anywhere to promote its image and the game. Even North Korea would not be a problem for us, should the right conditions apply. I understand from a survey that was carried out recently that we have an enormous number of fans in Vietnam, so maybe that is somewhere that we might look to visit in the future. It just seems like the whole of the Far East has a lot of respect and affection for our club and we have to serve that as best we can."

Man United Chief Executive David Gill said that South Korea midfield player Park Ji Sung is part of the United phenomenon, but it is not unique to South Korea. Of the 75 million United fans worldwide, 40.7 million are in Asia and only 4.6 million in “the Americas”. The Asian fans are also willing “customers”, through the traditional merchandising routes and the club’s media outlets. And with a huge following in Asia and Africa, Gill admitted that the club's future touring plans will revolve around the Asian and African markets."Chelsea over the last few years have been having a great time in America, which is fine, but we do what's right for us and we're comfortable with the opportunities with our history, our ground, our heritage, the way we play football. Those are key assets," he said.

“We had a good tour in America in 2003. Clearly there were a few issues in 2004, when we didn’t have a full squad there. I’m sure we will go to America again, whether that’s at the end of the season or a pre-season.Obviously, with having American owners, it makes sense to go there at some stage. But they wouldn’t insist that we go there. They would look at it from a team perspective, a commercial perspective and an overall club perspective. Looking at all those issues, it made sense for us to come here. Is America ever going to be as passionate as the Asian market? I wouldn't have thought so. You see what the following is like over here and you see all the coverage and the amazing support we have. There is huge interest in Premier League football and Manchester United in particular.

"Where next? I think Africa is an interesting one. There's clearly a great following for the Premier League in Africa and we are going back to South Africa next year.There may be issues in certain countries, but nonetheless, there's a lot of money in Nigeria for example.There is a huge following for English football in Nigeria and, as more and more African players come to the Premier League, you can see that getting greater," he said.

United play the third game of the tour when they face Shenzhen FC in Macau on Monday. The team then moves on to southern China for a clash with Guangzhou Pharmaceutical on Friday before returning to England.

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