|Another year, another three letter sponsor....|
So the new season is about to begin and United supporters are getting used to a new shirt emblazoned with the name of our new sponsor. United's appeal to global brands is not in doubt and the exposure the deal will give to Aon is clearly the major plus for the company's President and Chief Executive, Greg Case as he outlined in this press release (edit, the cached copy I previously linked to has gone, nice work Aon, but thankfully Red News published the full release here) which was also sent as an email to all Aon staff when the deal was announced last year:
"The strong Manchester United brand is compelling because it provides Aon with an opportunity to communicate the value we bring to clients on a broader base than we ever could have achieved on our own. We also will have the chance to maximize the value of our partnership in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East as well as take advantage of Manchester United's strong presence in the United Kingdom and Europe."
Not only that, but Greg goes on to explain how United supporters will become Aon's "walking billboards":
"And speaking about that world famous shirt, more than 6 million Manchester United shirts are sold in a year, giving Aon more than 6 million "walking billboards" annually. With each appearance Manchester United makes, they will add to their fan base in both existing and new markets. Starting in 2010 the Aon-sponsored shirt will continue to build equity for our Firm as it increases its impression rate globally."
How many shirts are sold each year? "more than 6 million" says Greg....
Hang on. Nike never reveal how many replica United shirts they sell per annum. The bond prospectus does not contain the number. The only time Red Football Ltd has made it (sort of) public was in the 2006 refinancing Investment Memorandum (page 14`of the pdf, third paragraph):
"Over the first four years of the Nike deal [which commenced on 1st August 2002], the Club sold in excess of 6 million replica shirts, approximately 40% of those sales (including other apparel) were outside of the UK."
So four years ago United/Nike were selling c. 1.5m shirts a year (of which only around 600,000 were sold outside the UK), today someone has told Greg Case that annual shirt sales are running at 6m!
What's going on? A quick call to Nike yielded the response that:
"annual sales are significantly below the number [6m] you just quoted".....
The football "industry" is never more ridiculous than when it is making exaggerated claims about its own popularity and it makes me wonder what else David Gill told Greg Case about the current state of Manchester United. Perhaps he should pop back over to M16 for a fact finding mission. He could take in a match, West Ham is on general sale.....