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INTERVIEW: New Sponsors Aon Speak About Glazers, Debt and “The Brand”

A couple of weeks ago I gave readers of RoM the opportunity to pose questions for an Aon representative. Whilst wanting to get in to the nitty gritty, I was also mindful that any sponsor will be wary of what they can say about our owners. The fans want the Glazers out of the club and have made the club sponsors a target for boycott, putting pressure on them to pull out of deals with Manchester United, to encourage the Glazers to go, or face the negative reactions from reds towards them.

David Prosperi, the VP of Global Public Relations at Aon Coporation, has given us a few moments of his time to try and shed light on some of the fans’ concerns and without mentioning the “G” word, has talked about our debt, our fans and the ‘brand value’.

RoM: What will Aon be bringing into the club as an active sponsor rather than just a sponsor in name?

David Prosperi: Well, we want Aon to be seen as more than just a name on the shirt to the fans and supporters of Manchester United, and one of the ways we hope to do that is by supporting the tremendous community work that is done globally by Manchester United and the Manchester United Foundation. That is why we are kicking off our four-year sponsorship with a charity event at Old Trafford on June 1st, the first official day of our sponsorship. We will have about 150 representatives from Aon’s Manchester office and their families participating in a Penalty Kick Challenge with the proceeds going to The Christie charity in Manchester, a children’s cancer treatment facility in Manchester that has been supported previously by our Aon colleagues there as well as by the Manchester United Foundation. That same day, our 36,000 Aon colleagues who work in over 500 offices in more than 120 countries will be participating in what we are calling “Aon United REDy Day,” where they will contribute to a local charity or volunteer at a local event all for the chance to wear their Manchester United shirt or red clothing. We hope to engage in similar activities around the world over the course of our sponsorship.

RoM: Do you think season ticket holders should get more benefits from the sponsors? e.g. Aon give discounted insurance.

DP: We are exploring such possibilities but I do not have any details to offer at this time.

RoM: After the 4 year sponsorship deal, what do you expect to have achieved during the time with the club? Also do you see yourself staying longer than just the contracted 4 years?

DP: We have set four objectives that we hope to achieve as a result of our partnership with Manchester United: 1) We want to be able to use our sponsorship as an ‘amplifier’ to unite our firm worldwide; 2) We want to strengthen the power of Aon’s global brand; 3) We want to be able to grow our business in parts of the world where the Manchester United brand is very strong, such as Asia and Latin America; and, 4) We hope to achieve a more efficient, effective and globally coordinated global brand strategy as a result of our partnership. As to whether we see ourselves staying longer than just the current sponsorship, I do not have a crystal ball, but I think it is safe to say that we plan to do everything in our power to earn consideration from the club for such an opportunity.

RoM: Your company is now associated with a club against whose owners thousands of fans protest against each week. What’s that doing for your ‘brand value’?

DP: We think the passion of the Manchester United fans is part of what makes the brand so strong. What other team has such a large fan base outside of its own country? What other team sells more shirts than the entire 32 teams in the U.S. National Football League? What other team has aided brand awareness of 100 percent in Korea, 90 percent in China and 80 percent in Japan? What other team has over 60 million web page impressions per month? We think the brand value of Manchester United is of high quality and remains quite strong, and that its continued strength will allow Aon to grow our brand in a more powerful way than if we did it ourselves.

RoM: As fans we’re obviously concerned with the amount of debt the club is taking, rumoured from to be anywhere from £300m to £700m. As an insurance and risk management specialist does Aon see any opportunity to possibly restructure or free the club from the debt by any way possible?

DP: One of the things that attracted us to pursue the sponsorship opportunity is the passion of fans of Manchester United; the passion they have for the players and for the team to succeed and win. We also greatly admire the club’s desire for wining and for excellence, along with the fact that they have built a powerful brand with tremendous global reach. We think that the work that David Gill and his team are doing is great, and we do not see ourselves as being in a position to offer advice on financing or how to manage the club.

RoM: In the past Manchester United supporters’ groups have publicly criticised he club’s commercial partners. Are you in favour of this free speech?

DP: Aon is all about free speech and all about transparency. We believe in transparency in all of our dealings with our clients and we are all about providing them with the highest value for price. The reason we reached out to The Republik of Mancunia is that we want its readers to get a little better understanding of Aon, what we do as a firm and what we hope to accomplish as the shirt sponsor of Manchester United. We hope that dialogue can continue over the course of the sponsorship. We understand that there will always be differences of opinion and we respect the rights of the fans of Manchester United to voice their opinions. That is where their passion comes from. As long as free speech is based on the facts, then we can always agree to disagree on certain issues.

Aon made this investment in Manchester United because we felt we could not find a better partner who shares our values of leadership, teamwork and a passion for excellence. We think that the quote by Sir Matt Busby truly captures the spirit of our partnership with Manchester United: “At United, we strive for perfection. And if we fail, then we might just have to settle for excellence.” I hope that over the course of our partnership the followers of The Republik of Mancunia will come to agree with us.


About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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325 Comments

  1. Moscow is my heaven says:

    @Goat

    I do not compare United’s performances against Chelsea’s or anyone else’s. Chelsea were shit this season, yet they won the league. I do not aspire United to meet the quality of title winners Chelsea, since they LOST 6 GAMES this season. Instead, I consider United of 07/08 to be the benchmark, lightning football, from front to back, simply unstoppable. The generous reasoning that United finished 1 point behind a poor Chelsea side doesn’t take away from the fact we lost 7 games in the league last season. The lads put in a fantastic shift last season, and it brought a tear to my eye to see them so dissappointed at Sunderland and Old Trafford for the last game of the season. We cannot ignore the lack of recognised quality up-front, so we need to make a decision. We weren’t unstoppable this season, hell, Burnley beat us, so we must evolve, because ‘At United, we strive for perfection, and if we fail, we might just have to settle for excellence.’

    As for Chelsea, they are FUCKING SHIT, but instead of focusing on beating them, let’s focus on living up to our benchmark.

  2. Moscow is my heaven says:

    *back to front*

  3. Moscow is my heaven says:

    @rtnk

    spot on mate.

  4. sprite says:

    moscowismyheaven
    you dont take my point about the 4-5-1.. It is no point in having good forwards if the midfield is lacking..
    and at the moment Scholes and Fletcher are our best options, at least that is what you could see towards the end of the season.. and Scholes is too old to play the against the Xavi’s/Iniesta’s of this world with only Fletcher by his side.. you are saying Ando/Fletcher.. maybe, if Ando get a hard kick up his arse.. he isnt good enough yet.. only if he does a Nani

    goat
    spot on about Hargo and Gibbo.. Gibson hasnt blown me away either, but I remember this one game where he really had many good passes and I just thought “this guy will come of age”.
    As for Hargo I am concerned as well.. the fact that he need pain injections just to take part in training sessions does not sound very good, but lets wait and see..

  5. willierednut says:

    All i ever hear is, we need a am, or a goalscoring midfielder, but not many names are ever mentioned. You know why? there isn’t that many top class midfielders around Europe, the lack of quality is staggering. I think thats why we’re being linked with Cole, and on a freebie, the boss should snap him up.

  6. Moscow is my heaven says:

    @sprite

    I take your point that a central pairing to take on those names is difficult, but I feel Fergie would somehow, someway accomodate a Torres-like striker in the Starting XI.
    .
    @willierednut

    Exactly mate, who else is out there (who are available to us)?

  7. sprite says:

    Rtnk
    We signed berba at 27 mate..
    Given all the rediculous prices out there, all the Argies between £40-60m only because they think everyone will turn out like messi.. Di Unproven Maria is never more than £20m in a realistic market..
    Milner at £30, fuck even that Bolton guy, Cahill is it? for £30m.. Joe Cole could be a shrewd piece of business..
    But he isnt worth rediculous wages.. I somehow understand Chelsea in that sense..

  8. rooney the new king says:

    sprite – I would rather pay outstanding wages than spend the kind of prices been touted about, and cole may not extend his contract because of where chelsea see him in the team he wants a new challenge and he may think moving to a bigger club could give breath new life into his career, ronaldo also left because he also felt he could lose the hunger, cole moving to united will see him born again. its pot and kettle if we are not paying good wages or pay for players then this club really is worryingly short of cash.

  9. sprite says:

    Rtnk
    yeah, if we could only pay Cole 120k/week it would have been all fine, but then the rest of the lads think “oh, if cole is paid that much, I certainly deserve twice as much/as much as him” and our wage structure will be at risk.. thats my concern

  10. willierednut says:

    sprite – I’m not sure he would get 120k at United mate, i would think 90, 100k would be more likely the figure.

  11. sprite says:

    Oh sorry, my mistake, dont know where I heard the 120k/week.. I am sure I have heard it somewhere lol… oh, found it: http://therepublikofmancunia.com/would-you-take-joe-cole-on-a-free/

    but I also think £100k is a bit too much.. remember the guy who eat dogs has about £70k/week and that was held to be a massive deal for him..
    £90k would be max, at £90k I think the salary structure could be fine.

  12. parryheid says:

    think you’ll find if sir alec has already been having a chat with joe as he likes to do, his terms will have already been sealed with a handshake so if he’s coming to United there’s no point squabbling about his worth.

  13. Gotta hate tiny tears says:

    isnt there a wage structure in place at united. a 28 year old freebe couldnt get 120k nomatter who he is

  14. parryheid says:

    could well be .But should he be coming there’s lots of ways round that,ie signing on fees and such.

  15. redscot says:

    @Sprite your post today @ 22.07 Asking what I meant! re read the thread mate, my post to Costas @ 21.51 Sunday evening.Your post @ 22.07 Sunday evening, asking Scott about plane journeys lol And do not attempt to suggest it was the moderator.Thats a Anal attempt at having a pop.
    That is why I replied, Too YOU having a lil dig(joke) in my post prior to going to bed. I know my post sounded Gay, but I dont care I just wanted to hear, Costas views on Joe Cole.
    @Moscow is my heaven@14.23 today” I’m sorry but I cant take arrogantly condecending remarks at peoples opinions, feel free to diasgree, thats what the blog’s all about, but not to score points mate.

    I cant see why I was scoring a point in my post to you simply asking are you refering to Dimatar,I have a different view from you mate, and you have ranted through your post to bash Dimatar that is your perogative as a fan.
    All I will add is if we sell Dimatar and raise as some media sites and agents suggest raise 12~ 15 Million pounds, can we get a more productive player for the funds raised, I suggest not, infact know not.
    Ps If you want to trade insults I am happy with that, regards condescending and arrogant, but really prefer to talk about Manchester United and the thread we are on.
    Have a nice whatever Pal.
    Thanks GHTT, for shout on surreal posting, all good fun.

  16. Moscow is my heaven says:

    @redscot

    Looking back at my comment, I think what I said was way too heated, when all you mentioned was ‘did you mean Berbatov’. I did say that Berbatov wasn’t gonna leave, so I might as well get behind him just like the past 2 seasons, as he’s a United player. Not in the best mood when I read your reply, so apologies all the same and yeah, let’s keep it United.

    Joe Cole wants £100k, so there’s no point stating or discussing any value above that, maybe we could find a mid-value between what he gets at Chelsea £80k and what he wants, so settle at £90k would be enought to tempt him in our direction.

  17. sprite says:

    redscot
    I didnt fully understand everything you just wrote,

    anyways I was talking to Scott The Red mate.. he wrote in his facebook status, that he is leaving on a jet plane.. I asked him where he was going.. maybe he was having a laugh, but I thought since he hadnt posted anything on RoM in a while that he was serious, but then he posted something today, so no worries..

  18. Rai says:

    The papers are talking about Arteta again coming to
    United, I’d be chuffed with that….it’s gonna be a long summer
    of being linked everyone and anyone

  19. Ulster Red says:

    arteta is a super super footballer, id love it if he came….

  20. GoatinaUnitedShirt says:

    In my opinion NO to Arteta. Too old, as soon as a top spanish club comes calling he’ll want to go. Its all very well that Everton look better with him biut would we. I doubt it.

  21. Ulster Red says:

    GoatinaUnitedShirt
    to be fair i dont think barca or madrid will ever come calling, where would he fit in at barca for example, whereas we could do with his creatiivity, i personally think we could do alot worse than arteta, he’s proven in the premiership and with better players around him at united imagine how he could shine

  22. Canadian Red Devil says:

    Look at this picture from Aon’s official site:

    http://www.aon.com/unitedin2010/images/AON_MANU_HERO6.jpg

    “Rafael” is represented by a picture of Evra and “Rooney” is actually Solskjaer!

    I’d like to hear their Global PR man explain that one!

  23. redscot says:

    @Moscow is my heaven, No problem’s mate and most certainly no need for any apoligies,I realise we all get a little heated and angry if we are not getting our points across correctly and people are not taking on board what someone might be saying.
    I understand you are sceptical of Dimitar, and can also appreciate your reasons why.Like you I just think as he is a United player and if and looks like he will be with us next season, as you say lets support him.
    Agreed totally if we can sign a fully fledged international player for zilch and a wage of 90k per week would be a steal and Joe Cole would be a United style player with I believe the professionalism and commitment to blossom at United.Cheers for response mate.
    @Sprite, ohhhhh right we got our wires crossed, lol which is not unusual on a blog of this nature,
    What I wrote was the reference points as to how we got to there, were we did, but in all honesty it was just me having a wee bit fun, I really dont like bad feeling and squabbling over minor details.
    So Sprite as you say no worries or hassle. High 5! lol
    Keeping my head down and away to read page bye page of all the links in the first part of the season review, I started reading last night and Jaysus only got to October 2nd 2009, and guess what the thread was Berbatov lol.Maybe communicate again in a few weeks when I have ploughed through the rest. lmao

  24. chino7 says:

    Dave Mack, you’re right, its much bigger than a club, but that doesnt mean it should be run like any business tycoon. The Glazers have a responsibility in keeping the fans content and doing what ever it takes to make the team successful. Im shiver when I think of what will happen when SAF retires, its him thats keeping this team so successful. Im afraid they might sell a player that would be incremental in the strategy of the team and bloop we would no longer become top european competition, or as I like to put it, top european fear.

    I believe that these Glazer fucks are only in it for the money, wish to run it like they run their american football team. Surely you should know that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have had several horrible runs with bad coaching and bad management. I just dont want that to happen to United after Sir Alex retires…..

    Fuck the Glazers, Love United

  25. nuts about football gifts says:

    Looks like the Red Devils will do it again this season

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