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ManU Secures 3rd Straight League Title

Posted May. 18, 2009 08:08,   


"Go global beyond Britain!”

“A team that caters to the fans’ minds rather than shooting the ball into the goal.”

With a scoreless draw versus Arsenal Saturday and 27 wins, six draws and four losses (87 points) for the season, Manchester United has secured its third straight English Premier League title.

United is not a typical soccer club but a global enterprise called “Manchester Inc.” The team is worth a world best 1.87 billion U.S. dollars according to an assessment made early this year by Fortune magazine.

United earned as much as 300 million pounds in sales last year.

○ Transcending the sport

United CEO David Gill hails from PricewaterhouseCoopers, a global accounting and consulting company. Starting his career with the team as chief financial officer in 1997, he was promoted to CEO in 2005 and has led the club through thorough management of finance and marketing.

The centerpiece of United’s operations is profit-making just like any other company. Gill will embark on an Asian tour, including Korea, in July to explore the market there.

The Red Devils have more than 100 million fans around the world but has just started cultivating the Asian market, an uncharted territory.

Management is so focused on profit-making, the team has openly labeled Park Ji-sung, the first Korean player in the English league, as the "cornerstone for its advance into the Asian market."

United earns 40 percent of its income from tickets, 30 percent from broadcast deals, and 30 percent from sponsorships and product sales. The number of fans at home games averaged 75,000 this season.

○ Human resources management key to lasting popularity

United coach Sir Alex Ferguson takes charge of player management, and he doles out playing time based on performance. He has reformed the squad, which once was called “team of troublesome drunks” under coach Matthew Busby (1945-1973), to lead it to the top of the soccer world.

He cultivated promising players by forming a youth club. David Beckham, Ryan Wilson, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville are among stars Ferguson has cultivated.

The coach also recruited players who grew up at other youth clubs, including Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. He also brought in foreign players by paying top dollar as long as they can boost performance, including Park in 2005.

○ Park`s emergence

Park transferred from the Dutch team PSV Eindhoven to United in July 2005. He has played in 122 games and scored 12 goals, emerging as a solid player.

Park is also the second Korean to play more than 100 games in a European league after Cha Bum-kun, who played for Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany in the 1970s.

Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink, who led PSV in 2005, tried to keep Park in the Netherlands, warning that Park would be nothing but a tool for selling United uniforms in Korea.

Park has continued to improve, however. He had two goals and six assists in the 2005-06 season and five goals and two assists the season after. He struggled last season due to an injury suffered in late 2007, but has rebounded this season with four goals and two assists in the Premiership, FA Cup and the Champions League.

With 12 goals and 12 assists over the past five years, he has become one pillar of “Ferguson’s children.”