Sunday, December 21, 2008

United the World Champions' put South American cloggers' in their place...

So then, United are the 'FIFA Club World Champions', hip, hip hurrah! The title has a nice ring about it and even the most cynical of fans like myself have to admit that the Reds took the competition seriously, as indeed did today's other finalists Liga de Quito.

From the moment the final kicked-off it was apparent that unlike the semi-final, this match was going to be no walk in the park for United as the South Americans game plan appeared to centre on taking it in turn to try to kick lumps out of Ronaldo and anyone else in the Red shirt.

Thankfully, the Reds had too much class for the Ecuadorians, the only surprise was that the first-half remained goalless which was in no small part down to de Quito 'keeper Cevallos who lived a somewhat charmed life with Rooney in particular going close on a number of occasions.

The second-half was spoilt by the sending off of Vidic who was seen elbowing a Liga de Quito striker who was clearly holding down United's Serbian defender. The theatrics of the Ecuadorian striker in getting Vidic sent-off were worthy of an Oscar, but nonetheless Nemanja had to go.

With United playing with ten men for forty odd hard fought minutes it looked as if the match would go to extra-time and possibly penalties, but on 73 minutes Ronaldo cutely played in Rooney and the United striker did what he should have done in the first-half when he comprehensively beat Cevallos giving him no chance.

In the end Liga de Quito got what they deserved, which is precisely nothing, whether they were inhibited by United's class doesn't really matter, because they seemed to be intent of playing for extra time and penalties from the start of the final. It was only after going a goal down did this team of journeymen cloggers try to play some football.

It remains to be seen what the true price of today's victory will be for United. On Friday lunch United take on Stoke City in what will be another blood and thunder game at the Britannia Stadium. As a result of the sending off, Vidic will miss the first leg of United's Champions League tie with Inter Milan, but Jonny Evans will deputise so hopefully the Reds will cope in the heat of the San Siro.

The title of World Champions while being valid represents something of a hollow victory given the lowly stature of what can only be described as a Mickey Mouse tournament.

United will no doubt be the envy of the commercial and PR departments of rivals' such as Chelsea and Liverpool who like the Reds' continue to talk of the East as an untapped market. However, seasoned Reds like myself take an entirely different view of so called fans from the far East, which is they do not contribute to United's coffers in any meaningful way; they do not pay top dollar TV subscriptions nor do they buy official merchandise (don't all the snide shirts get manufactured in the Far East?) and they quite obviously cannot buy match-tickets apart for these side-show tournaments.

In short, the Premier League clubs who court the Far and near East are chasing fool’s gold because United's most important fans are those nearer to home. That said, United could score commercially where sponsors are concerned, so while fans from the Far East might not contribute directly there's no denying that United may well at some point cash-in on their undoubted popularity by possibly replacing AIG with say Toyota.


  1. Hi.. I am an Indian.. Based on my interactions with AIG India Management team, I can surely confirm that AIG India derives most of its identity from Manchester United team only.. So Brands get a lot of sponsoring not only high ticket items but also small stuffs..

    As you rightly point out, though most of us don't buy official merchandise (But why should we, when we get the same stuff for 1/20th the price?]

    Yeah.. TV Subscription model in Asia is different where we generally don't pay enormous amount for TV Subscription.. But the fact that our volumes makes it possible that even if a single person don't generally contribute that much for the sport, collectively our contribute may come close to Europe some time.. [Remember China and India are alone have mroe than 2 billion people.. And EPL is fast growing sports league in these regions]

  2. Hi Robin,

    I'd like to make the following points in response to your answer.

    AIG were pretty much unknown in the UK until they became sponsors of United, so from an exposure point of view the exercise has worked well. That said, I have no idea how successful their partnership has been financially. But I do take your point about India and AIG.

    Regarding Indians / Asians buying 'snide shirts'. Let me be clear on this issue; I wouldn't be seen wearing a United shirt, be it snide or otherwise, unless I was playing football. However, from the club's point of view, there's only one type of supporter they are interested in and that is those who are willing to part with their hard earned money - and United treat these supporters poorly when introducing unfair ticketing policies which are well documented, but that is another issue. I can well appreciate why those who want to wear shirts will buy cheaper options...they are a rip-off.

    Regarding Asian TV subs, I can see your logic, but as far as I know United sell their rights overseas as part of a collective bundling agreement with the rest of the Premier League in conjunction with SKY TV, so until the Reds' have more control over their own rights they will never capitalise. FYI, Premier League agreed a very bad deal in China with a PPV channel which has seen many Chinese fans switching to free coverage of Serie A in Italy and La Liga in Spain....

    So what I'm saying is my initial points do stand up because as you have admitted fans in ASIA do not contribute directly to the clubs coffers on a regular basis - hence the phrase "chasing fools gold". FYI, United opened a chain of branded cafe's in the Far East but they've sinced closed them down.

    The clubs could eventually cash-in via live internet coverage because there's huge potential for earning big bucks here - providing they can stop the pirating of live games which isn't happening right now...

    Some of the best comments posted on this blog originate from India so I do appreciate your input and the fans knowledge of the club which continues to impress me. But should the club's form suddenly nose-dive - what will become of our new found fans from ASIA - will they jump ship as quickly as they did when Beckham was sold to Real?

    I have a big problem with the marketing and PR machine at United who tried and failed to close down snide shirt manufacturing in the Far East - this when they couldn't even control sales of such items on Warwick Road outside Old Trafford. Then there's the fools gold issue concerning the Far East - when will they ever learn?

    United along with the other leading clubs have what is known as a skimming policy where the rest of the world is concerned.

    The Reds' will continue to play in summer tournaments with a view to expanding the brand name for the greater good of the club and their sponsors, but beyond that we the fans are largely treated as merely numbers and customers.

  3. I agree witth your views but dare u say united needs it's supporters only in are highly mistaken...i have 2 bloody watch a game at 1am den wake up at 6 go to college....till date i have supported united like all u sitting in OT but this just pisses me off.I feel fkin sad that don't stay in Manchester.United losing ruins my weekend.....btw da abt the jerseys i fkin collected money from age of 12 to 14 to buy my 1st jersey


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