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Manchester United football club are the most valuable sports team in the world, worth a staggering $3.69 billion according to Forbes magazine in 2017.
Why is this so? Well, they are world famous; steeped in a long rich history, and they come from a country that has English; the language of international commerce as its native tongue.
Over the years, many iconic football stars have at some point graced the red jersey, most notably David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, and current world player of the year; Cristiano Ronaldo.
They have many global marketing partners, from Adidas Clothing to Chevrolet Motors.
The club even recently a developed a feature film partner in 20th Century Fox. The world seems to love the Red Devils; and being American owned, the US market love United too.
Not all angles have been covered
In that case, you’d be forgiven in thinking that such an iconic business had all the angles covered. Not so.
Manchester United and Southampton FC are the only Premier League teams today NOT to have a women’s senior team. Why might this be?
There’s no clear reason, but it wasn’t always this way. In 2005, the club absorbed local women’s side Corinthians but that was put to an end when the Glazer family bought the club in 2005.
When asked, the club stated that a women’s team “wasn’t part of the core business”.
The reasons why United need a women’s teams are extensive.
The women’s game in the UK is growing
Women’s football in 2017 is thriving more than ever in the UK.
The latest boost to ticket sales for the Women’s Super League came when England achieved third place at the 2015 World Cup in Canada, the country’s second best World Cup finish in history.
Keep apace with rivals
Local town rivals Manchester City set up a women’s team in 2012.
Not only that, but they recently contracted US soccer star Carli Lloyd on loan from Houston Dash.
In case United didn’t realise, the US national women’s team have been arguably the best in the world for a while now, and won the last World Cup in 2015.
Football for the ladies is a pretty big deal, and Carli Lloyd is extremely famous in the women’s game. Not only are United missing out on the marketing potential of women’s football, but also they are allowing Manchester City of all teams to capitalise on it.
Rumor has it global rivals Real Madrid are to establish a women’s senior team soon too.
Huge US marketing opportunities
Compared to the men’s game, women’s football is fairly insignificant; the top players in the English Women’s Super League earn up to £80,000 per year, less than a lot of Premier League stars earn in a week.
But in the USA, top earner Alex Morgan of the Portland Thorns earns up to £1.9m per year including endorsements. Football; after tennis and golf is one of the biggest and best options female athletes have of forging a professional sporting career.
As the so-called world’s most famous club, Manchester united are missing out on a being market leader in nurturing the biggest and best female players, and attracting players from the lucrative US National Women’s Soccer League.
If Carli Lloyd could join Manchester City on loan, why couldn’t Alex Morgan someday join United?
A wider, more diverse fanbase
More fans mean more commercial opportunities, which leads to more revenue for a club.
A competitive women’s football team would attract more women to watch Manchester United and purchase the much-celebrated merchandise. Men and women United fans could lead to the whole family going to Old Trafford each week.
Manchester United may argue that a women’s team will cost the club vital resources in terms of planning, facilities, training, and marketing. But the profit possibilities are endless.
Can United afford to have a women’s senior team? The question should be, can they afford not to have one?
Written by Nicholas Behan
Follow Nicholas on Twitter @NicholasBehan
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