REVEALED: Manchester United sponsors are angry at their stars for pulling out of events in fear of awkward questions given their on-pitch struggles
Manchester United’s sponsors are starting to feel the effects of the club’s struggles on the pitch.
Discontent is growing about player appearances being cancelled due to the disappointing form of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side. United last won the league in 2013 and have been overtaken by their fiercest rivals Manchester City and Liverpool.
They have lost their status as Champions League certainties, failing to qualify for Europe’s top competition in three of the past six seasons.
Manchester United’s players are often asked to take part in events for commercial partners
This term, inconsistency has marred their campaign and left them facing a battle to finish fourth. Unrest among supporters about the club’s ownership and how it is run has added to the negativity.
The grim state of affairs could lead to awkward questions being asked of members of Solskjaer’s squad at commercial functions.
Those have been avoided in some cases by stars being withdrawn or opting out from scheduled events.
Some sponsors also suspect the club may feel that having players fill their spare time with commercial duties when things are not going to plan on the pitch could give the wrong impression.
United have more than 60 tie-ups with brands and organisations that help bring in revenue
United have more than 60 tie-ups with brands and organisations listed on their official website. Their 24-strong list of global partners is topped by £64million-a-year shirt sponsor Chevrolet, £75m-a-year kit maker adidas and principal partner AON, their former shirt sponsor whose name is now attached to United’s training ground and training kit.
United’s global sponsorships also include official denim, betting, wine, spirits, tyres, financial trading, coffee and hotel partners.
Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has earned much of the credit for maintaining United’s huge commercial appeal and continuing to bring in lucrative deals despite the on-field decline.
However, with murmurs about whether sponsors are getting value for money from their deals starting to emerge, Woodward’s 2018 claim that ‘playing performance doesn’t really have a meaningful impact on what we can do on the commercial side of the business,’ is now in the spotlight.
There are growing concerns over the commercial impact of Paul Pogba’s possible exit
There are also growing concerns over the commercial impact of Paul Pogba’s possible exit this summer.
The World Cup winner enters the final two years of his contract at the end of the season, at which point United will have to consider selling him or risk losing him for nothing in 2022.
United chiefs have considered potential replacements who could match Pogba’s global stature. However, without Champions League football — which looks a distinct possibility next season — there are concerns that the club will not be able to attract the sort of global icon they are looking for.
Pogba is one of the most high-profile footballers in the world, something United have used to their advantage since his arrival in 2016.
The 25-year-old is central to their worldwide commercial strategy so losing their poster boy would not only represent a blow on the pitch, but also have a detrimental impact on their finances.