Manchester United: A Thematic Study

Manchester United: A Thematic Study

Manchester United: A Thematic Study

Manchester United: A Thematic Study


Despite myriad popular and journalistic expositions, up to this point there have been virtually no academic discussions of the Manchester United phenomenon. This anthology represents the first concerted academic examination of Manchester United F.C. in its current guise as a widely followed and highly emblematic sporting institution. Bringing together respected academics from an array of disciplinary backgrounds these essays each interrogate various related dimensions of the Manchester United world. The primary aim of this collection is to illustrate how the structure and experience of Manchester United is implicated in broader societal shifts, within which the boundary between cultural and commercial concerns have become increasingly indivisible. The chapters are presented within five thematic sections: 1 Becoming United 2 Economy United 3 Embodied United 4 Local United 5 Global United


Situating Manchester United plc

David L. Andrews

The choice of Manchester United as the empirical locus of this project was based on a number of factors, not least of which was the prominent place occupied by the club within the everyday lives of the English populace. Whether one loves, hates, or is indifferent toward the club, some semblance of its material, symbolic and/or commercial presence is difficult to avoid when traversing England's high streets, out-of-town shopping centres, school playgrounds, myriad newspapers or television channels. Within the context of contemporary consumer society, perhaps the most tangible criteria through which it is possible to evaluate Manchester United's cultural significance are economic in nature. As testament to its broad-based appeal, and unlike most other football clubs within what is a recession-hit culture industry, in recent years Manchester United has generated increased rates of profit, with earnings per share doubling between 2001 and 2003. Moreover, in 2003 profits reached £50 million, from turnover of £173 million, resulting in a market valuation approaching £610 million. Also, unlike many clubs whose reliance upon television broadcast rights fees necessarily places them in a perilous financial position, a breakdown of United's 2003 turnover reveals a much healthier, balanced fiscal landscape derived from match day (41 per cent of turnover), media (32 per cent) and commercial (27 per cent) revenue sectors.

Not that Manchester United should be considered a fundamentally parochial phenomenon, as evidenced by its growing presence and aspirations within overseas markets. As the club's 2003 annual report effused:

Manchester United is one of the leading clubs in world football, with a global brand and following that embodies the passion and excitement of the world's most popular sport. Our goal is, through innovation, commitment and evolution, to protect and develop the brand by sustaining the playing success on the field and growing the business to enhance the financial strength of the Group.

(Anon., 2003:2)

Manchester United's rising status within the global cultural economy of sport can be attributed to its position at the vanguard of the commercialising processes

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