Apr 23 - Manchester United have been signing off new sponsorship deals in the boardroom almost as regularly as they have been winning matches on the field. After winning their 20th league title on Monday night Ivor Bennett looks at whether money can buy success?
Manchester United fans are used to celebrating. The club's now won 20 league titles, five in the last seven seasons. (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED MANCHESTER UNITED FAN SAYS: "Absolutely fantastic, absolutely brilliant." (SOUNDBITE) (English) UNIDENTIFIED MANCHESTER UNITED FAN SAYS: "Right from the off, two minutes until we scored so you can't get any better than that." The club is one of the richest in the world. But according to football finance expert Dr Sue Bridgewater, it's by no means bought success. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr SUE BRIDGEWATER, FOOTBALL FINANCE EXPERT, WARWICK BUSINESS SCHOOL, SAYING: "They don't in fact have the highest wage bill. They've got the third highest wage bill behind wage bill Behind Chelsea and Manchester City and yet obviously they are doing very well on the pitch. but what they do have is a lot of revenue. They're earning a lot of money and a lot of that comes from their very good marketing, their sponsorship deals." It's these deals which helped fund key signings like Robin van Persie, his goals sealing the latest triumph. Long gone though are the days of the sole shirt sponsor. The club now has lucrative deals on both global and regional levels with everyone from General Motors to Japanese paint maker Kansai. The training kit has a separate sponsor. Even the club's training ground is tied up in a corporate deal. With an estimated 650 million supporters worldwide, it's no wonder companies are queuing up for partnerships. Half of the club's fanbase is in Asia, where it has an appeal others can't match. SOUNDBITE (English) Dr SUE BRIDGEWATER, FOOTBALL FINANCE EXPERT, WARWICK BUSINESS SCHOOL, SAYING: "It may sound like a bizarre thing to say they have an advantage through playing in red. If you look at the Far East, because that's a very lucky colour. And as it just so happens, both Manchester City and Chelsea play in blue. And so probably they have some natural advantages for that region that will make them a bigger draw and likely to get more followers in those markets." Manchester United's IPO in New York last year valued the club at 2.3 billion dollars. But the club still has considerable debt - to the tune of half a billion. That's because of a leverage buyout in 2005 by American owner Malcolm Glazer. A move some fans still haven't forgotten, unhappy at the club's commercialisation. But with revenues reportedly 100 million pounds more than they were before the Glazers took over, and yet another title to boot, clearly it's a plan that's working.