United steps up engagement efforts with Chinese fanbase

03 Jul 2019

By: Sport Industry Group

Manchester United has detailed a raft of new physical and digital initiatives designed to further its connection to its Chinese fanbase.

Club legends Peter Schmeichel, Dimitar Berbatov and Wes Brown attended the official opening of the preview centre in Beijing, part of the club’s partnership with China-based Harves Entertainment which was first announced in January.

The opening, which was also attended by Manchester United’s Group Managing Director, Richard Arnold and Harves Chairman, Bo Zhang, took place at the Manchester United Experience preview centre located in the historic Qianmen Dashilan area next to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.

The preview centre showcases to fans the cutting-edge experience being developed ahead of the centre opening in full in 2020, followed by more centres throughout China.

The Manchester United Experience centres are designed to be a unique, state-of-the-art environment and experience that bring the excitement of Manchester United and its Old Trafford stadium to the club’s followers in China.

Highlights include a full-scale replica of Old Trafford’s famous Trinity Statue, an interactive showcase of the club’s most historical moments and triumphs, an authentic replica of the players tunnel and changing rooms, as well as opportunities for fans to ‘sign’ for the club and show their allegiance to their team. The preview centre also houses the first official Manchester United Megastore in mainland China.

United said the Beijing centre is the first of its kind for any club and will be closely followed by further developments in Shanghai and Shenyang. A series of centres will roll out across China to engage with what United claims are its 100 million-plus Chinese followers.

Zhang said: “We share a vision for an engaging and immersive entertainment experience that will allow young people and fans more access to the historic club. We will also offer youth training opportunities that provide skills and a better understanding of what it means to pursue excellence.

“Most importantly, we want to bring families and fans together to have fun and to be entertained. We have assembled great partners in realising this vision and look forward to working together to create something exciting that will benefit all who experience it.”

In January, the Premier League was named as the No.1 European football organisation online in China for the first time, according to Mailman’s annual Red Card report. Amongst over 70 European teams ranked, the Premier League had one team within the top five clubs, with United in third spot, behind FC Bayern München and top performer Real Madrid.

United today revealed that it is also combining the physical experience developments with digital interaction through its new, dedicated Chinese-language app. The app will provide greater access to the latest club related news and exclusive videos.

In other news, United has partnered up with Konami Digital Entertainment for the latest edition of its iconic football video game, eFootball PES 2020.

The game claims to deliver most detailed recreation of Old Trafford yet seen. The current squad have also been created using a full-body 3D scanning process, providing players of the game with ultra-realistic avatars of their favourite players. An exclusive Manchester United Club Edition of the game will also be available at launch.

Launch dates for eFootball PES 2020 on PlayStation4, Xbox One, and PC STEAM, have been set for 10th September (Americas/Europe/Asia) and 12th September (Japan).