It is a giant of the world football that the PSG is preparing to face for the first time in official competition. This Tuesday night, the Paris club will discover the legendary speaker of Old Trafford to face Manchester United in the first leg of the Champions League. A few years ago, such a move was enough to scare the biggest teams on the continent. But since the departure of his iconic coach, Sir Alex Ferguson, in 2013, the British ogre has lost (a little) of his superb.

Since then, he has not been successful either in the Premier League – to the point of being thrown off the podium in 2014, for the first time in twenty-two years – nor in the Champions League. In 2014/2015, he even had his first season without European competition since 1990. If they have caught up with three victories in national cups and a Europa League, the Mancunians are still far from their standards of the 1990s and 2000s.

In 2018, the Red Devils earned 666 million euros in revenue

Yet this bad sporting pass had no effect on his economic health. According to the latest Deloitte report on European football, the Red Devils earned 666 million euros in revenue – including 120 million tickets – in the 2017/2018 season, compared to 541.7 million euros for the PSG. What to keep on the continental podium behind the Spanish Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. For the 2017 calendar year, UEFA still ranks first at € 676 million. In July, "Forbes" made Manchester United, listed on the New York Stock Exchange since 2012, the second most valued sports franchise in the world, behind the Dallas Cowboys (football), to 4.12 billion dollars.

If the morale is good financially, the club owes first to its rich history and the power of the Premier League, whose international visibility is comparable to that of the Champions League and provides important benefits to the teams that make it up. But the Red Devils have also distinguished themselves by a successful business model, developed long time by its leaders, first and foremost Ed Woodward, the current vice president of the club.

Ed Woodward realized early on the need to internationalize the Manchester United brand.

"Ed Woodward is a visionary. He understood early on the need to internationalize the Manchester United brand, "says Anthony Alyce, founder of the Ecofoot site. "Thanks to him, the club was the first to embark on summer tours, mainly in Asia and the United States, to sign sponsorship contracts for his training suits and to develop partnerships in every major region of the world. world. "

Multiplication of sponsorship contracts

This international presence makes it possible for Manchester United to be one of the main sellers of jerseys around the world. According to a study by PR Marketing, published in October 2016, the club was the first in the field in the period 2011-2016, with 1.75 million tunics sold on average per year, ahead of Real Madrid (1.65 million) and FC Barcelona (1.27 million).

The Red Devils were also among the first to diversify sponsorship in a wide variety of sectors. Beyond its main contracts – Chevrolet, Aon, Kholer and Adidas – Manchester United also has a music partnership with Deezer, a cinema partnership with 20th Century Fox, a logistics partnership with DHL, a coffee partnership with Melitta … Au In total, it counts twenty-four global partner contracts.

"Like the biggest teams, Manchester United has also taken care to reclaim key elements to ensure its good economic health and decorate the financial results of sports results," says Anthony Alyce. In 2013, he notably bought from his partners ITV and Sky the shares they held on the club's television channel, MUTV, created in the late 1990s and offered on subscription – paying – to fans. This has enabled him to establish distribution contracts all over the world, particularly in Asia and Africa, to extend the weight of his brand.

A new recruitment strategy

On the sporting side, he also reviewed his recruitment strategy to ensure greater revenues. "At the time of Sir Alex Ferguson, the main idea was that the collective took precedence over individualities. That's why he let David Beckham go, "explains Anthony Alyce. "From now on, the club makes its choices from a marketing point of view, by recruiting stars like Zlatan Ibrahimovic or Paul Pogba. "

This all-out strategy has paid off. According to the latest figures published on the club's website, the club has quadrupled its circulation and merchandising revenues between 2006 and 2017. Its profit has increased five-fold.

Florian Maussion