Manchester United – Odd Facts About This European Giant
Manchester United is one of the biggest and most successful football clubs in the world. In fact, they are right up there with the likes of Spanish giants such as Real Madrid and Barcelona. They have a global fan base which is easily larger than the population of some countries.
Going all the way back to the origins of this illustrious club, it actually all started off in the year 1878 when a football club named Newton Heath LYR Football Club was founded. The club was a manifestation of people from the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway industries looking for recreation and exercise. This club was popularly known as Heathens and they did pretty well for a new club, but they were far from the super club that they are today, merely even a shadow.
In the early twentieth century the Heathens were in a predicament. They were not playing top division football, they had been relegated to the second division, and even in England’s second tier football division, they were not at the top of the table. Their financial situation was in pretty bad shape too. Their situation got so bad that the club’s own president sought the closure of the club and had even approached the court accordingly. It was only after the court took a strong stand that the two saviors of the club swung into action. This was the team captain Harry Stafford and a St. Bernard dog which went by the name Major.
Stafford was not just a footballer (he played in the full back position in the team) but professionally he was a boiler maker. Stafford simply refused to accept the closure of the club and he resorted to all of the fund-raising techniques known in those days short of borrowing or stealing. He even organized an event lasting for four days at Manchester and his pet dog, a St Bernard named Major, was the star attraction in the show. United fans these days may not even know who Stafford is, but they sure do owe him credit. He is the reason the club survived its darkest days while it was still in its infancy. Not only was he an excellent defender and a professional boiler maker, but he proved to be quite a businessman and entrepreneur in raising substantial funds to keep the club afloat.
Birth of a Giant
Coming back to the event that Stafford hosted in order to raise funds, it really was an important turning point in the history of this club. As mentioned, the star of the show was his St. Bernard, Major. As fate would have it, a young lady really loved Major. It turned out that this young lady was from a rather affluent family and her father was the owner of a brewery which was doing rather well. He was none other than Henry Davis. This is how Davis and Stafford got to meeting, and what resulted from their meeting each other is the whole reason Manchester United is the club that it is today. Stafford was able to sell the idea of owning a football club to Davis, and Davis bought it. However, he only had one condition, that the club be renamed – Manchester United. This was the birth of Manchester United.
It is safe to say that the club survived because of a dog! All hail Major the St. Bernard.
Nothing can take away the contribution of Sir Alexander Chapman Ferguson, CBE who managed the team from 1986 to 2013. For many players, managers and analysts his is one of the greatest and most successful managers ever in the history of the game.
Odd Facts about Manchester United that you may not know:
It is said that facts can sometimes be stranger than fiction. Here are some facts which bear testimony to that proverb.
- Though this club has been competing in the top flight football and European football competitions for a very long time, yet the most surprising part of their philosophy is evident from the manner of selection of their managers. The club managers all the way from 1892 till 2014, i.e. over a century, have all been from t Great Britain. They were mainly from England and Scotland with just two of them each from Ireland and Wales. It is a matter worth noting that despite having remained a little conservative in infusing talent into their managerial ranks they still managed to deliver impressive performances all through. This is a recorded and documented fact and there is no room for suspecting any foul play. Their first overseas manager was Louis Van Gaal in 2014, and he didn’t quite enjoy the success that his English predecessors had.
- In 1907, Manchester United actually brought on board 18 players that were banned by their rivals and neighbours, Manchester City. Even though this move was highly criticised, it proved effective as United went on to clinch the FA Cup in 1910 and a lot of these players turned out to be key in this success. United are also known for being a football club wherein stars are made and not bought. They have a youth system through the ranks of which have come some of their most special players till date. Unlike some of the bigger clubs, they do not resort to just going out in the transfer window and buying their way to titles and trophies.
- Despite this noncommercial attitude of the club they have retained a very good share price in the market. In fact, this club was crowned the most valuable soccer team of the world in 2017 and is worth 3.69 trillion US dollars. They are also the most profitable football team of the world having an operating expenditure of 288 million US dollars which is one hundred million more than the team which comes in second, Real Madrid.
- Since they managed to rope in over 400 million US dollars by way of sponsorship and advertising revenues it can be concluded that they have a very well established and effective brand building process. While the top twenty teams of the world have on an average netted a value of $1.48 billion other main teams which are doing well in the stock market are Barcelona with is worth $3.64 billion, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester City all ranging from three and a half to two million US dollars approximately. Incidentally all of them are nowhere near to Red Devils. Strange but true, despite a not so impressive beginning and a somewhat conservative approach Man U remains firmly in the lead.
The beginning of this illustrious club may have been rather shaky and of course there have been ups and downs since then, but without a doubt, they are one of the biggest football clubs in the world today no matter which way you slice the cake., It is irrefutable that they have excelled not only on the football field but also off the field. Their image has been projected as one of invincibility and stability. This branding has brought in rich dividends for the club on its economic front.
Today, they have not only enticed the entire football loving public but have also attracted a big cross section of the investment hungry population. Their share is traded today at a price of $16.70 as on September 13, 2017 and this could be a very envious achievement for any commercial firm in the stock market today. Elephants have two sets of teeth – one for showing and the other for chewing food.
While excelling in football is their ‘for display teeth’ doing well on the commercial front appears to be their ‘food chewing teeth’. Today it is difficult to say whether this club plays football with an eye on the economics or indulges in economics with the game of football as their instrument.