The man charged with protecting the Manchester United brand has insisted the club is “bigger than individual players” amid speculation its most marketable star Wayne Rooney is set to leave.
In a wide-ranging talk at a lunch arranged by the Association of Data-Driven Marketing (ADMA) United’s marketing director Jonathan Rigby played down the potential impact of the loss of the England star.
During his presentation Rigby showed two marketing videos, both of which featured the 27-year-old out of favour striker heavily.
But when asked by B&T about any move he said: “That’s why we positioned Manchester United in the way it’s positioned to make sure everyone understands it’s about the club and not individual players.
“If you look through the history of the football club I don’t have enough fingers on my hands to count the devastation every time a player has left, whether that’s Cantona, Beckham or whoever.
“I think we’ve got confidence the club is bigger than individual players and it’s really all about the club.
“With our sponsors we’ll be very open about that. What we say is no individual player, they all play their parts but it’s about Manchester United. We remind them of surveys independent of us. Barclays did a terrific survey in 2008 which said 85% of the global fan base will never change their club.”
During his presentation he also stressed the value the club tries to drive for sponsors, claiming the launch of the new shirt deal with Hyundai got $57.6m in earned media alone for Chevrolet.
He also admitted the brand had been “late” to social media, joining Twitter just over a week ago, but said it had been a “considered” rather than slow move.
Talking about the club’s Facebook page, he said “We don’t commercialise Facebook as it’s against the ethos of social media. We don’t do shirt sales or tickets sales or have sponsored links on there. It was part of the agreement with Facebook they remove them from the page.”
The club has more than 34m likes on the site, and an estimated worldwide following of 650m.
He said maintaining a meaningful connection with those fans was one of the “things that keep me awake at night”, with each Man Utd match getting more than 100m viewers globally.
Talking about the club’s mobile deals he said they had moved to team up with the number one providers in different countries, and said they were open to negotiations from an Australian provider to carry their rights as they do not currently have one.