From being denied the entry into Football Leagues in 1882 to becoming the club with the most league titles, from facing bankruptcy in the early 1900s to becoming the first ever billion dollar club in the world and from losing most of its golden generation in 1958 to becoming the most successful British club today, Manchester United has worked its way up from absolute darkness to becoming one of the biggest clubs in the world.
This is How Big Are They and today, we will take a walk around the Theater of Dreams to find out just how big Manchester United really is!
A club that was launched as Newton Heath L&YR in 1872 by a group of railway workers with the sole objective of taking part in some physical activities over Saturday afternoons, nobody could have ever imagined that it would be the club that would change the face of English football. Or rather, become the face of English football, if not world football.
As of 2016, Manchester United is the fifth biggest sports brand in the world, worth over $3.35 billion. Its closest English competitor? Arsenal, a whole 18 places behind at number 23. That’s the dominance of Manchester United.
Chelsea fans, look away now, as Manchester United is worth twice more than your great club, which is ranked 36th in the same list.
As a matter of fact, MUFC is worth as much as Liverpool FC ($1.55 billion) and Manchester City FC ($1.92 billion) combined, two of its biggest rivals! Looks like Manchester is going to stay red for a long time, isn’t it?
Speaking of rival clubs, how could a club be so dominant that its closest rivals are not actually all that close? Well, decades of incomparable success plays a major role.
For starters, Manchester City, in their 136-year history, has won 4 first division titles. Manchester United? 20. Interestingly, by the end of 2013-14 season, Ryan Giggs, on his own, had played more games (672) in the Premier League than Manchester City (658).
I have always considered myself to be very fortunate. To play for the biggest club in the world, which also happens to be the team I supported as a boy, means I have never had to consider changing away from Manchester United.
How about Chelsea? Well, Chelsea, in its entire history, has won 17 major titles. 3 less than the total first division titles that United has. In fact, MUFC has won the league four times more than Chelsea and has won the European Cup thrice as many times as Chelsea.
Liverpool FC is perhaps the biggest rival, in terms of success, to Manchester United but even then, Manchester United leads them in every major trophy other than the European Cup.
To sum it up, Manchester United has won 63 major honors in the club’s history. That’s almost 20 more than the total trophies won by Chelsea (26) and City (18) combined. Arsenal (42) and Liverpool (59) too cannot match the trophy haul of Manchester United.
This incredible success on the pitch translates into millions of fans around the world. For instance, on Twitter, Manchester United has more followers than European giants like Juventus and Bayern Munich combined. On Facebook, the club has more ‘likes’ than Chelsea and Liverpool combined. It also has almost twice as many likes as Arsenal and more than thrice the likes of Manchester City. It also leads in Europe as it has more likes than Bayern Munich and AC Milan combined.
And the support is not limited to just social media either. Manchester United has the highest average attendance of all the clubs in the Premier League. Every competitive game at Old Trafford sees 75,530 people shouting “Glory Glory Man United!” at the top of their voices. This is incredible when you realize that this attendance is more than the entire population of countries like Greenland and Monaco. Talk about a full house!
And the tour is definitely worth it because Old Trafford (75,653) is the biggest Premier League stadium in the country in terms of capacity. The next closest is Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium with a capacity of 60,260. Anfield and Etihad stadium aren’t even close with 45,522 and 55,097 seats respectively.
When it comes to sponsorships, Manchester United is the face of global advertising. This is clear from the fact that Adidas paid the club 750 million Pounds to manufacture their kits and this was when the club was going through its worst phase in more than 30 years. The next biggest kit deal is worth just 42 million Pounds and belongs to Bayern Munich. Real Madrid, meanwhile, has a kit deal worth only half as Man United’s. United’s kit deal, in fact, is worth twice than both Arsenal’s and Chelsea’s deals combined.
In the end, very little gets in the way of what Manchester United wants to do.
No matter what parameter you set to identify the biggest club in the world, there is no doubt that Manchester United will always be one of the leading names. And to think that this same club was facing bankruptcy in its early years and lost most of its team in the Munich Air Disaster when it had just started to pick up success is a testimony to the club’s unbeatable spirit.
It doesn’t matter which team you support, as hard as it might be to accept, Manchester United is truly one of the biggest clubs in the world.
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