According to data from With a Fun Filter, Manchester United are the most supported club in world football. To hold such a status is an incredible achievement, especially when considering the global appeal of the La Liga giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Fascinatingly, the Red Devils have an estimated 650 million fans worldwide, while Los Blancos have only 350 million. By comparison, Chelsea, the next most-supported team in England, have 145 million global supporters.
It speaks volumes about United’s global appeal that, in India alone, they have 35 million supporters, which is just under 25 percent of Chelsea’s total following. For numerous years, the Red Devils have been one of the most popular English teams in the South Asian country, but many have wondered why the 20-time league champions have a substantial following in India. With that in mind, let’s consider why Indian football fans love Manchester United.
The Red Devils Have Embraced the Asian Market On and Off the Field
Few can argue that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team haven’t led by example regarding their exploration of the Asian market. Away from the pitch, United are one of few English clubs to target Indian supporters and the country’s deep-rooted love of sport. As per Sportskeeda, the Red Devils sought to heighten interactivity with their fans in the South Asian country back in 2016 by hosting ILoveUnitedIndia events. The fan-friendly strategy saw former players, Dwight Yorke and Quinton Fortune, visit Bangalore and Mumbai for various supporter-focused activities, such as Q&As and match analysis.
Two years after the ILoveUnitedIndia campaign, the club returned to India with a video-driven service. InsideSport states that the club were launching customised video content tailored to their Asian following in 2018.
Of course, the Red Devils have also attracted Indian supporters because of their on-field approach. In the mid-2000s, United sought to explore the Asian market regarding player recruitment. As such, they signed Park Ji Sung from PSV Eindhoven for around £4 million in 2005. Over his seven-year spell at Old Trafford, the Seoul-born midfielder played 134 matches for the Red Devils, won 19 trophies, and became Ferguson’s big-game player in must-win games. In turn, his success saw him become the most successful Asian footballer of all time and the first to win the UEFA Champions League. Although not Indian, Park’s triumphs at Manchester United grabbed the attention of the Asian market, and the 20-time league winners are now reaping the rewards of his recruitment, as evident from their 35 million Indian fans.
Digital Growth and Sir Alex Ferguson’s Reign of Success
As highlighted above, United haven’t shied away from using digital strategies to further their reputation in Asia. Interestingly, because of the Red Devils’ loyal following in India, football has become the region’s second most popular sport. In turn, it’s now a leading market at many diverse industries, including at online betting platforms. Now, at the best betting sites at Asiabet.org, Manchester United’s Indian supporters can immerse themselves in the club’s on-field fortunes like never before. Of the 4.7 billion Premier League fans worldwide, India possesses a dedicated fan base who can now bet on Red Devil-related markets at promotion-offering operators, such as bet365, ComeOn, Dafabet and many more.
In the world of sport, success is of utmost importance. Ultimately, it plays a central part in attracting new supporters and becoming a global brand. There can be no doubt that United’s triumphs under Sir Alex Ferguson from 1992 to 2013 significantly aided their popularity in India. Across his 27 years at Old Trafford, the Govan-born manager won 13 league titles, five FA Cups, four Champions Leagues, and much more. Not only did the Scotsman return United to the pinnacle of English and European football, but he, perhaps inadvertently, turned them into a brand. As such, Manchester United are now more than a football club. Instead, they’re a family that has captured the hearts of Indian football fans.
Dominating the Indian Market
According to Brand Finance, 21 percent of Indians nominate the Red Devils as their favourite club. Ultimately, this speaks volumes given that the country boasts a population of 1.366 billion. In the coming years, it looks like United will continue to cater to the South Asian market. Ultimately, they’ll seek to do so by utilising their digital strategies and ILoveUnitedIndia campaigns.