Manchester United F.C.

"MUFC" and "Manchester United" redirect here. For other uses, see MUFC (disambiguation).

Manchester United
The words "Manchester" and "United" surround a pennant featuring a ship in full sail and a devil holding a trident.
Full name Manchester United Football Club
Nickname(s) The Red Devils[1]
Short name MUFC
Founded 1878 (1878), as Newton Heath LYR F.C.
1902 (1902), as Manchester United F.C.
Ground Old Trafford
Ground Capacity 75,643[2]
Owner Manchester United plc (NYSE: MANU)
Co-chairmen Joel and Avram Glazer
Manager José Mourinho
League Premier League
2015–16 Premier League, 5th
Website Club home page

Manchester United Football Club is a professional football club based in Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England, that competes in the Premier League, the top flight of English football. Nicknamed "the Red Devils", the club was founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to its current stadium, Old Trafford, in 1910.

Manchester United have won a record 20 League Titles, a joint-record 12 FA Cups, four League Cups and a record 21 FA Community Shields. The club has also won three European Cups, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, one UEFA Super Cup, one Intercontinental Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup. In 1998–99, the club became the first in the history of English football to achieve the treble of the Premier League, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League.[3]

The 1958 Munich air disaster claimed the lives of eight players. In 1968, under the management of Matt Busby, Manchester United became the first English football club to win the European Cup. Alex Ferguson won 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cups and 2 UEFA Champions Leagues, between 1986 and 2013,[4][5][6] when he announced his retirement. José Mourinho is the club's current manager, having been appointed on 27 May 2016.

Manchester United was the second highest-earning football club in the world for 2013–14, with an annual revenue of €518 million,[7][8] and the world's third most valuable football club in 2015, valued at $1.98 billion.[9] As of June 2015, it is the world's most valuable football brand, estimated to be worth $1.2 billion.[10][11] It is one of the most widely supported football teams in the world.[12][13] After being floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1991, the club was purchased by Malcolm Glazer in May 2005 in a deal valuing the club at almost £800 million, after which the company was taken private again. In August 2012, Manchester United made an initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange. The club holds several rivalries, most notably with Liverpool, Manchester City and Leeds United, and more recently with Arsenal.


Early years (1878–1945)

refer to caption
A chart showing the progress of Manchester United through the English football league system from joining as Newton Heath in 1892–93 to the present

Manchester United was formed in 1878 as Newton Heath LYR Football Club by the Carriage and Wagon department of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (LYR) depot at Newton Heath.[14] The team initially played games against other departments and railway companies, but on 20 November 1880, they competed in their first recorded match; wearing the colours of the railway company – green and gold – they were defeated 6–0 by Bolton Wanderers' reserve team.[15] By 1888, the club had become a founding member of The Combination, a regional football league. Following the league's dissolution after only one season, Newton Heath joined the newly formed Football Alliance, which ran for three seasons before being merged with the Football League. This resulted in the club starting the 1892–93 season in the First Division, by which time it had become independent of the railway company and dropped the "LYR" from its name.[14] After two seasons, the club was relegated to the Second Division.[14]

A black-and-white photograph of a football team lining up before a match. Four players, wearing dark shirts, light shorts and dark socks, are seated. Four more players are standing immediately behind them, and three more are standing on a higher level on the back row. Two men in suits are standing on either side of the players.
The Manchester United team at the start of the 1905–06 season, in which they were runners-up in the Second Division

In January 1902, with debts of £2,670 – equivalent to £260,000 in 2016[nb 1] – the club was served with a winding-up order.[16] Captain Harry Stafford found four local businessmen, including John Henry Davies (who became club president), each willing to invest £500 in return for a direct interest in running the club and who subsequently changed the name;[17] on 24 April 1902, Manchester United was officially born.[18][nb 2] Under Ernest Mangnall, who assumed managerial duties in 1903, the team finished as Second Division runners-up in 1906 and secured promotion to the First Division, which they won in 1908 – the club's first league title. The following season began with victory in the first ever Charity Shield[19] and ended with the club's first FA Cup title. Manchester United won the First Division for the second time in 1911, but at the end of the following season, Mangnall left the club to join Manchester City.[20]

In 1922, three years after the resumption of football following the First World War, the club was relegated to the Second Division, where it remained until regaining promotion in 1925. Relegated again in 1931, Manchester United became a yo-yo club, achieving its all-time lowest position of 20th place in the Second Division in 1934. Following the death of principal benefactor John Henry Davies in October 1927, the club's finances deteriorated to the extent that Manchester United would likely have gone bankrupt had it not been for James W. Gibson, who, in December 1931, invested £2,000 and assumed control of the club.[21] In the 1938–39 season, the last year of football before the Second World War, the club finished 14th in the First Division.[21]

Busby years (1945–1969)

A black-and-white photograph of several people in suits and overcoats on the steps of an aircraft.
The Busby Babes in Denmark in 1955

In October 1945, the impending resumption of football led to the managerial appointment of Matt Busby, who demanded an unprecedented level of control over team selection, player transfers and training sessions.[22] Busby led the team to second-place league finishes in 1947, 1948 and 1949, and to FA Cup victory in 1948. In 1952, the club won the First Division, its first league title for 41 years.[23] With an average age of 22, the back-to-back title winning side of 1956 were labelled "the Busby Babes" by the media, a testament to Busby's faith in his youth players.[24] In 1957, Manchester United became the first English team to compete in the European Cup, despite objections from The Football League, who had denied Chelsea the same opportunity the previous season.[25] En route to the semi-final, which they lost to Real Madrid, the team recorded a 10–0 victory over Belgian champions Anderlecht, which remains the club's biggest victory on record.[26]

A stone tablet, inscribed with the image of a football pitch and several names. It is surrounded by a stone border in the shape of a football stadium. Above the tablet is a wooden carving of two men holding a large wreath.
A plaque at Old Trafford in memory of those who died in the Munich air disaster, including players' names

The following season, on the way home from a European Cup quarter-final victory against Red Star Belgrade, the aircraft carrying the Manchester United players, officials and journalists crashed while attempting to take off after refuelling in Munich, Germany. The Munich air disaster of 6 February 1958 claimed 23 lives, including those of eight players Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor and Billy Whelan – and injured several more.[27][28]

Manchester United (1963)

Reserve team manager Jimmy Murphy took over as manager while Busby recovered from his injuries and the club's makeshift side reached the FA Cup final, which they lost to Bolton Wanderers. In recognition of the team's tragedy, UEFA invited the club to compete in the 1958–59 European Cup alongside eventual League champions Wolverhampton Wanderers. Despite approval from the FA, the Football League determined that the club should not enter the competition, since it had not qualified.[29][30] Busby rebuilt the team through the 1960s by signing players such as Denis Law and Pat Crerand, who combined with the next generation of youth players – including George Best – to win the FA Cup in 1963. The following season, they finished second in the league, then won the title in 1965 and 1967. In 1968, Manchester United became the first English (and second British) club to win the European Cup, beating Benfica 4–1 in the final[31] with a team that contained three European Footballers of the Year: Bobby Charlton, Denis Law and George Best.[32] Matt Busby resigned as manager in 1969 and was replaced by the reserve team coach, former Manchester United player Wilf McGuinness.[33]


A smiling man with dark hair wearing a white, green and blue tracksuit top over a blue shirt. He is holding a washbag under his right arm.
Bryan Robson was the captain of Manchester United for 12 years, longer than any other player.[34]

Following an eighth-place finish in the 1969–70 season and a poor start to the 1970–71 season, Busby was persuaded to temporarily resume managerial duties, and McGuinness returned to his position as reserve team coach. In June 1971, Frank O'Farrell was appointed as manager, but lasted less than 18 months before being replaced by Tommy Docherty in December 1972.[35] Docherty saved Manchester United from relegation that season, only to see them relegated in 1974; by that time the trio of Best, Law, and Charlton had left the club.[31] The team won promotion at the first attempt and reached the FA Cup final in 1976, but were beaten by Southampton. They reached the final again in 1977, beating Liverpool 2–1. Docherty was dismissed shortly afterwards, following the revelation of his affair with the club physiotherapist's wife.[33][36]

Dave Sexton replaced Docherty as manager in the summer of 1977. Despite major signings, including Joe Jordan, Gordon McQueen, Gary Bailey, and Ray Wilkins, the team failed to achieve any significant results; they finished in the top two in 1979–80 and lost to Arsenal in the 1979 FA Cup Final. Sexton was dismissed in 1981, even though the team won the last seven games under his direction.[37] He was replaced by Ron Atkinson, who immediately broke the British record transfer fee to sign Bryan Robson from West Bromwich Albion. Under Atkinson, Manchester United won the FA Cup twice in three years – in 1983 and 1985. In 1985–86, after 13 wins and two draws in its first 15 matches, the club was favourite to win the league, but finished in fourth place. The following season, with the club in danger of relegation by November, Atkinson was dismissed.[38]

Ferguson years (1986–2013)

The torso and head of a grey-haired white man. He is wearing spectacles and a black coat.
Alex Ferguson managed the team between 1986 and 2013.

Alex Ferguson and his assistant Archie Knox arrived from Aberdeen on the day of Atkinson's dismissal,[39] and guided the club to an 11th-place finish in the league.[40] Despite a second-place finish in 1987–88, the club was back in 11th place the following season.[41] Reportedly on the verge of being dismissed, victory over Crystal Palace in the 1990 FA Cup Final replay (after a 3–3 draw) saved Ferguson's career.[42][43] The following season, Manchester United claimed its first Cup Winners' Cup title and competed in the 1991 UEFA Super Cup, beating European Cup holders Red Star Belgrade 1–0 in the final at Old Trafford. A second consecutive League Cup final appearance followed in 1992, in which the team beat Nottingham Forest 1–0 at Wembley.[38] In 1993, the club won its first league title since 1967, and a year later, for the first time since 1957, it won a second consecutive title – alongside the FA Cup – to complete the first "Double" in the club's history.[38]

A white football player with short, dark, greying hair. He is wearing a red shirt, white shorts, white socks and white football boots. He is running and has puffed-out cheeks.
Ryan Giggs is the most decorated player in English football history.[44]

In the 1998–99 season, Manchester United became the first team to win the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League – "The Treble" – in the same season.[45] Losing 1–0 going into injury time in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær scored late goals to claim a dramatic victory over Bayern Munich, in what is considered one of the greatest comebacks of all time.[46] The club also won the Intercontinental Cup after beating Palmeiras 1–0 in Tokyo.[47] Ferguson was subsequently knighted for his services to football.[48]

Manchester United won the league again in the 1999–2000 and 2000–01 seasons. The team finished third in 2001–02, before regaining the title in 2002–03.[49] They won the 2003–04 FA Cup, beating Millwall 3–0 in the final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.[50] In the 2005–06 season, Manchester United failed to qualify for the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in over a decade,[51] but recovered to secure a second-place league finish and victory over Wigan Athletic in the 2006 Football League Cup Final. The club regained the Premier League in the 2006–07 and 2007–08 seasons, and completed the European double by beating Chelsea 6–5 on penalties in the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Ryan Giggs made a record 759th appearance for the club in this game, overtaking previous record holder Bobby Charlton.[52] In December 2008, the club won the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup and followed this with the 2008–09 Football League Cup, and its third successive Premier League title.[53][54] That summer, Cristiano Ronaldo was sold to Real Madrid for a world record £80 million.[55] In 2010, Manchester United defeated Aston Villa 2–1 at Wembley to retain the League Cup, its first successful defence of a knockout cup competition.[56]

After finishing as runner-up to Chelsea in the 2009–10 season, United achieved a record 19th league title in 2010–11, securing the championship with a 1–1 away draw against Blackburn Rovers on 14 May 2011.[57] This was extended to 20 league titles in 2012–13, securing the championship with a 3–0 home win against Aston Villa on 22 April 2013.[58]


On 8 May 2013, Ferguson announced that he was to retire as manager at the end of the football season, but would remain at the club as a director and club ambassador.[59][60] The club announced the next day that Everton manager David Moyes would replace him from 1 July, having signed a six-year contract.[61][62][63] Ryan Giggs took over as interim player-manager 10 months later, on 22 April 2014, when Moyes was sacked after a poor season in which the club failed to defend their Premier League title and failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time since 1995–96.[64] They also failed to qualify for the Europa League, meaning that it was the first time Manchester United hadn't qualified for a European competition since 1990.[65] On 19 May 2014, it was confirmed that Louis van Gaal would replace Moyes as Manchester United manager on a three-year deal, with Giggs as his assistant.[66] Malcolm Glazer, the patriarch of the Glazer family that owns the club, died on 28 May 2014.[67]

Although Van Gaal's first season saw United once again qualify for the Champions League through a fourth-place finish in the Premier League, his second season saw United go out of the same tournament in the group stage.[68] United also fell behind in the title race for the third consecutive season, finishing in 5th place, in spite of several expensive signings during Van Gaal's tenure. However, that same season, Manchester United won the FA Cup for a 12th time, putting them on par with Arsenal in total FA Cup wins.[69] Despite this victory, Van Gaal was sacked as manager just two days later,[70] with José Mourinho appointed in his place on 27 May, signing a three-year contract.[71]

Crest and colours

A football crest. In the centre is a shield with a ship in full sail above a red field with three diagonal black lines. Either side of the shield are two stylised roses, separating two scrolls. The upper scroll is red and reads "Manchester United" in black type, while the lower scroll is white with "Football Club" also written in black.
Manchester United badge in the 1960s

The club crest is derived from the Manchester City Council coat of arms, although all that remains of it on the current crest is the ship in full sail.[72] The devil stems from the club's nickname "The Red Devils"; it was included on club programmes and scarves in the 1960s, and incorporated into the club crest in 1970, although the crest was not included on the chest of the shirt until 1971 (unless the team was playing in a Cup Final).[72]

Newton Heath's uniform in 1879, four years before the club played its first competitive match, has been documented as 'white with blue cord'.[73] A photograph of the Newton Heath team, taken in 1892, is believed to show the players wearing red-and-white quartered jerseys and navy blue knickerbockers.[74] Between 1894–96, the players wore distinctive green and gold jerseys[74] which were replaced in 1896 by white shirts, which were worn with navy blue shorts.[74]

After the name change in 1902, the club colours were changed to red shirts, white shorts, and black socks, which has become the standard Manchester United home kit.[74] Very few changes were made to the kit until 1922 when the club adopted white shirts bearing a deep red "V" around the neck, similar to the shirt worn in the 1909 FA Cup Final. They remained part of their home kits until 1927.[74] For a period in 1934, the cherry and white hooped change shirt became the home colours, but the following season the red shirt was recalled after the club's lowest ever league placing of 20th in the Second Division and the hooped shirt dropped back to being the change.[74] The black socks were changed to white from 1959 to 1965, where they were replaced with red socks up until 1971, when the club reverted to black. Black shorts and/or white socks are sometimes worn with the home strip, most often in away games, if there is a clash with the opponent's kit. The current home kit is a two-tone halved shirt in two shades of red, with a hexagonal pattern dividing the two shades, and the trademark Adidas three stripes in white going each side of the torso.[75]

The Manchester United away strip has often been a white shirt, black shorts and white socks, but there have been several exceptions. These include an all-black strip with blue and gold trimmings between 1993 and 1995, the navy blue shirt with silver horizontal pinstripes worn during the 1999–2000 season,[76] and the 2011–12 away kit, which had a royal blue body and sleeves with hoops made of small midnight navy blue and black stripes, with black shorts and blue socks.[77] An all-grey away kit worn during the 1995–96 season was dropped after just five games, most notoriously against Southampton where Alex Ferguson forced the team to change into the third kit during half-time of its final outing. The reason for dropping it being that the players claimed to have trouble finding their team-mates against the crowd, United failed to win a competitive game in the kit.[78] In 2001, to celebrate 100 years as "Manchester United", a reversible white/gold away kit was released, although the actual match day shirts were not reversible.[79]

The club's third kit is often all-blue, this was most recently the case during the 2014–15 season.[80] Exceptions include a green-and-gold halved shirt worn between 1992 and 1994, a blue-and-white striped shirt worn during the 1994–95 and 1995–96 seasons and once in 1996–97, an all-black kit worn during the Treble-winning 1998–99 season, and a white shirt with black-and-red horizontal pinstripes worn between 2003 and 2005.[81] From 2006–07 to 2013–14, the third kit was typically the previous season's away kit, with the exception of the 2008–09 season.[82]

Kit evolution

1879–1880, 1896–1902
1902–1920, 1921–1922, 1927–1934, 1934–1960, 1971–present[EN]
1920–1921, 1963–1971
  1. ^ Since 1997 this combination is primarily used in domestic competitions and friendlies.
  2. ^ Since 1997 this combination is primarily used in European and international competitions.


A stand of a football stadium. The seats are red, and the words "Manchester United" are written in white seats. The roof of the stand is supported by a cantilever structure. On the lip of the roof, it reads "Old Trafford Manchester".
Old Trafford after its expansion completed in 2006

Newton Heath initially played on a field on North Road, close to the railway yard; the original capacity was about 12,000, but club officials deemed the facilities inadequate for a club hoping to join The Football League.[83] Some expansion took place in 1887, and in 1891, Newton Heath used its minimal financial reserves to purchase two grandstands, each able to hold 1,000 spectators.[84] Although attendances were not recorded for many of the earliest matches at North Road, the highest documented attendance was approximately 15,000 for a First Division match against Sunderland on 4 March 1893.[85] A similar attendance was also recorded for a friendly match against Gorton Villa on 5 September 1889.[86]

In June 1893, after the club was evicted from North Road by its owners, Manchester Deans and Canons, who felt it was inappropriate for the club to charge an entry fee to the ground, secretary A. H. Albut procured the use of the Bank Street ground in Clayton.[87] It initially had no stands, by the start of the 1893–94 season, two had been built; one spanning the full length of the pitch on one side and the other behind the goal at the "Bradford end". At the opposite end, the "Clayton end", the ground had been "built up, thousands thus being provided for".[87] Newton Heath's first league match at Bank Street was played against Burnley on 1 September 1893, when 10,000 people saw Alf Farman score a hat-trick, Newton Heath's only goals in a 3–2 win. The remaining stands were completed for the following league game against Nottingham Forest three weeks later.[87] In October 1895, before the visit of Manchester City, the club purchased a 2,000-capacity stand from the Broughton Rangers rugby league club, and put up another stand on the "reserved side" (as distinct from the "popular side"). However, weather restricted the attendance for the Manchester City match to just 12,000.[88]

When the Bank Street ground was temporarily closed by bailiffs in 1902, club captain Harry Stafford raised enough money to pay for the club's next away game at Bristol City and found a temporary ground at Harpurhey for the next reserves game against Padiham.[89] Following financial investment, new club president John Henry Davies paid £500 for the erection of a new 1,000-seat stand at Bank Street.[90] Within four years, the stadium had cover on all four sides, as well as the ability to hold approximately 50,000 spectators, some of whom could watch from the viewing gallery atop the Main Stand.[90]

However, following Manchester United's first league title in 1908 and the FA Cup a year later, it was decided that Bank Street was too restrictive for Davies' ambition;[90] in February 1909, six weeks before the club's first FA Cup title, Old Trafford was named as the home of Manchester United, following the purchase of land for around £60,000. Architect Archibald Leitch was given a budget of £30,000 for construction; original plans called for seating capacity of 100,000, though budget constraints forced a revision to 77,000. The building was constructed by Messrs Brameld and Smith of Manchester. The stadium's record attendance was registered on 25 March 1939, when an FA Cup semi-final between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Grimsby Town drew 76,962 spectators.[91]

Bombing in the Second World War destroyed much of the stadium; the central tunnel in the South Stand was all that remained of that quarter. After the war, the club received compensation from the War Damage Commission in the amount of £22,278. While reconstruction took place, the team played its "home" games at Manchester City's Maine Road ground; Manchester United was charged £5,000 per year, plus a nominal percentage of gate receipts.[92] Later improvements included the addition of roofs, first to the Stretford End and then to the North and East Stands. The roofs were supported by pillars that obstructed many fans' views, and they were eventually replaced with a cantilevered structure. The Stretford End was the last stand to receive a cantilevered roof, completed in time for the 1993–94 season.[33] First used on 25 March 1957 and costing £40,000, four 180-foot (55 m) pylons were erected, each housing 54 individual floodlights. These were dismantled in 1987 and replaced by a lighting system embedded in the roof of each stand, which remains in use today.[93]

The Taylor Report's requirement for an all-seater stadium lowered capacity at Old Trafford to around 44,000 by 1993. In 1995, the North Stand was redeveloped into three tiers, restoring capacity to approximately 55,000. At the end of the 1998–99 season, second tiers were added to the East and West Stands, raising capacity to around 67,000, and between July 2005 and May 2006, 8,000 more seats were added via second tiers in the north-west and north-east quadrants. Part of the new seating was used for the first time on 26 March 2006, when an attendance of 69,070 became a new Premier League record.[94] The record was pushed steadily upwards before reaching its peak on 31 March 2007, when 76,098 spectators saw Manchester United beat Blackburn Rovers 4–1, with just 114 seats (0.15 per cent of the total capacity of 76,212) unoccupied.[95] In 2009, reorganisation of the seating resulted in a reduction of capacity by 255 to 75,957.[96][97] Manchester United has the second highest average attendance of European football clubs only behind Borussia Dortmund.[98][99][100]


Manchester United is one of the most popular football clubs in the world, with one of the highest average home attendance in Europe.[101] The club states that its worldwide fan base includes more than 200 officially recognised branches of the Manchester United Supporters Club (MUSC), in at least 24 countries.[102] The club takes advantage of this support through its worldwide summer tours. Accountancy firm and sports industry consultants Deloitte estimate that Manchester United has 75 million fans worldwide,[12] while other estimates put this figure closer to 333 million.[103] The club has the third highest social media following in the world among sports teams (after Barcelona and Real Madrid), with over 71 million Facebook fans as of September 2016.[13][104] A 2014 study showed that Manchester United had the loudest fans in the Premier League.[105]

Supporters are represented by two independent bodies; the Independent Manchester United Supporters' Association (IMUSA), which maintains close links to the club through the MUFC Fans Forum,[106] and the Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST). After the Glazer family's takeover in 2005, a group of fans formed a splinter club, F.C. United of Manchester. The West Stand of Old Trafford – the "Stretford End" – is the home end and the traditional source of the club's most vocal support.[107]


Manchester United has rivalries with Arsenal, Leeds United, Liverpool, and Manchester City, against whom they contest the Manchester derby.[108][109]

The rivalry with Liverpool is rooted in competition between the cities during the Industrial Revolution when Manchester was famous for its textile industry while Liverpool was a major port.[110] Manchester United and Liverpool are also the two most successful teams in England and, at many points in their history, they have battled each other for the league title (most recently in the 2008–09 season). Their matches are usually considered by the players and their fans as the biggest in any given season.

The "Roses Rivalry" with Leeds stems from the Wars of the Roses, fought between the House of Lancaster and the House of York, with Manchester United representing Lancashire and Leeds representing Yorkshire.[111]

The rivalry with Arsenal arises from the numerous times the two teams, as well as managers Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger, have battled for the Premier League title. With 33 titles between them (20 for Manchester United, 13 for Arsenal) this fixture has become known as one of the finest Premier League match-ups in history.[112][113]

Global brand

Aeroflot is an official carrier of the club.

Manchester United has been described as a global brand; a 2011 report by Brand Finance, valued the club's trademarks and associated intellectual property at £412 million – an increase of £39 million on the previous year, valuing it at £11 million more than the second best brand, Real Madrid – and gave the brand a strength rating of AAA (Extremely Strong).[114] In July 2012, Manchester United was ranked first by Forbes magazine in its list of the ten most valuable sports team brands, valuing the Manchester United brand at $2.23 billion.[115] The club is ranked third in the Deloitte Football Money League (behind Real Madrid and Barcelona).[116] In January 2013, the club became the first sports team in the world to be valued at $3 billion. Forbes Magazine valued the club at $3.3 billion – $1.2 billion higher than the next most valuable sports team.[117]

The core strength of Manchester United's global brand is often attributed to Matt Busby's rebuilding of the team and subsequent success following the Munich air disaster, which drew worldwide acclaim.[107] The "iconic" team included Bobby Charlton and Nobby Stiles (members of England's World Cup winning team), Denis Law and George Best. The attacking style of play adopted by this team (in contrast to the defensive-minded "catenaccio" approach favoured by the leading Italian teams of the era) "captured the imagination of the English footballing public".[118] Busby's team also became associated with the liberalisation of Western society during the 1960s; George Best, known as the "fifth Beatle" for his iconic haircut, was the first footballer to significantly develop an off-the-field media profile.[118]

As the second English football club to float on the London Stock Exchange in 1991, the club raised significant capital, with which it further developed its commercial strategy. The club's focus on commercial and sporting success brought significant profits in an industry often characterised by chronic losses.[119] The strength of the Manchester United brand was bolstered by intense off-the-field media attention to individual players, most notably David Beckham (who quickly developed his own global brand). This attention often generates greater interest in on-the-field activities, and hence generates sponsorship opportunities – the value of which is driven by television exposure.[120] During his time with the club, Beckham's popularity across Asia was integral to the club's commercial success in that part of the world.[121]

Because higher league placement results in a greater share of television rights, success on the field generates greater income for the club. Since the inception of the Premier League, Manchester United has received the largest share of the revenue generated from the BSkyB broadcasting deal.[122] Manchester United has also consistently enjoyed the highest commercial income of any English club; in 2005–06, the club's commercial arm generated £51 million, compared to £42.5 million at Chelsea, £39.3 million at Liverpool, £34 million at Arsenal and £27.9 million at Newcastle United. A key sponsorship relationship is with sportswear company Nike, who manage the club's merchandising operation as part of a £303 million 13-year partnership established in 2002.[123] Through Manchester United Finance and the club's membership scheme, One United, those with an affinity for the club can purchase a range of branded goods and services. Additionally, Manchester United-branded media services – such as the club's dedicated television channel, MUTV – have allowed the club to expand its fan base to those beyond the reach of its Old Trafford stadium.[12]


Period Kit manufacturer Shirt sponsor
1945–1975 Umbro
1975–1980 Admiral
1980–1982 Adidas
1982–1992 Sharp Electronics
1992–2000 Umbro
2000–2002 Vodafone
2002–2006 Nike
2006–2010 AIG
2010–2014 Aon
2014–2015 Chevrolet
2015– Adidas

In an initial five-year deal worth £500,000, Sharp Electronics became the club's first shirt sponsor at the beginning of the 1982–83 season, a relationship that lasted until the end of the 1999–2000 season, when Vodafone agreed a four-year, £30 million deal.[124] Vodafone agreed to pay £36 million to extend the deal by four years, but after two seasons triggered a break clause in order to concentrate on its sponsorship of the Champions League.[124]

To commence at the start of the 2006–07 season, American insurance corporation AIG agreed a four-year £56.5 million deal which in September 2006 became the most valuable in the world.[125][126] At the beginning of the 2010–11 season, American reinsurance company Aon became the club's principal sponsor in a four-year deal reputed to be worth approximately £80 million, making it the most lucrative shirt sponsorship deal in football history.[127] Manchester United announced their first training kit sponsor in August 2011, agreeing a four-year deal with DHL reported to be worth £40 million; it is believed to be the first instance of training kit sponsorship in English football.[128][129] The DHL contract lasted for over a year before the club bought back the contract in October 2012, although they remained the club's official logistics partner.[130] The contract for the training kit sponsorship was then sold to Aon in April 2013 for a deal worth £180 million over eight years, which also included purchasing the naming rights for the Trafford Training Centre.[131]

The club's first kit manufacturer was Umbro, until a five-year deal was agreed with Admiral Sportswear in 1975.[132] Adidas received the contract in 1980,[133] before Umbro started a second spell in 1992.[134] Umbro's sponsorship lasted for ten years, followed by Nike's record-breaking £302.9 million deal that lasted until 2015; 3.8 million replica shirts were sold in the first 22 months with the company.[135][136] In addition to Nike and Chevrolet, the club also has several lower-level "platinum" sponsors, including Aon and Budweiser.[137]

On 30 July 2012, United signed a seven-year deal with American automotive corporation General Motors, which replaced Aon as the shirt sponsor from the 2014–15 season. The new $80m-a-year shirt deal is worth $559m over seven years and features the logo of General Motors brand Chevrolet.[138][139] Nike announced that they would not renew their kit supply deal with Manchester United after the 2014–15 season, citing rising costs.[140][141] Since the start of the 2015–16 season, Adidas has manufactured Manchester United's kit as part of a world-record 10-year deal worth a minimum of £750 million.[142][143]

Ownership and finances

Originally funded by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, the club became a limited company in 1892 and sold shares to local supporters for £1 via an application form.[17] In 1902, majority ownership passed to the four local businessmen who invested £500 to save the club from bankruptcy, including future club president John Henry Davies.[17] After his death in 1927, the club faced bankruptcy yet again, but was saved in December 1931 by James W. Gibson, who assumed control of the club after an investment of £2,000.[21] Gibson promoted his son, Alan, to the board in 1948,[144] but died three years later; the Gibson family retained ownership of the club through James' wife, Lillian,[145] but the position of chairman passed to former player Harold Hardman.[146]

Promoted to the board a few days after the Munich air disaster, Louis Edwards, a friend of Matt Busby, began acquiring shares in the club; for an investment of approximately £40,000, he accumulated a 54 per cent shareholding and took control in January 1964.[147] When Lillian Gibson died in January 1971, her shares passed to Alan Gibson who sold a percentage of his shares to Louis Edwards' son, Martin, in 1978; Martin Edwards went on to become chairman upon his father's death in 1980.[148] Media tycoon Robert Maxwell attempted to buy the club in 1984, but did not meet Edwards' asking price.[148] In 1989, chairman Martin Edwards attempted to sell the club to Michael Knighton for £20 million, but the sale fell through and Knighton joined the Board of Directors instead.[148]

Manchester United was floated on the stock market in June 1991 (raising £6.7 million),[149] and received yet another takeover bid in 1998, this time from Rupert Murdoch's British Sky Broadcasting Corporation. This resulted in the formation of Shareholders United Against Murdoch – now the Manchester United Supporters' Trust – who encouraged supporters to buy shares in the club in an attempt to block any hostile takeover. The Manchester United board accepted a £623 million offer,[150] but the takeover was blocked by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission at the final hurdle in April 1999.[151] A few years later, a power struggle emerged between the club's manager, Alex Ferguson, and his horse-racing partners, John Magnier and J. P. McManus, who had gradually become the majority shareholders. In a dispute that stemmed from contested ownership of the horse Rock of Gibraltar, Magnier and McManus attempted to have Ferguson removed from his position as manager, and the board responded by approaching investors to attempt to reduce the Irishmen's majority.[152]

In May 2005, Malcolm Glazer purchased the 28.7 per cent stake held by McManus and Magnier, thus acquiring a controlling interest through his investment vehicle Red Football Ltd in a highly leveraged takeover valuing the club at approximately £800 million (then approx. $1.5 billion).[153] Once the purchase was complete, the club was taken off the stock exchange.[154] In July 2006, the club announced a £660 million debt refinancing package, resulting in a 30 per cent reduction in annual interest payments to £62 million a year.[155][156] In January 2010, with debts of £716.5 million ($1.17 billion),[157] Manchester United further refinanced through a bond issue worth £504 million, enabling them to pay off most of the £509 million owed to international banks.[158] The annual interest payable on the bonds – which mature on 1 February 2017 – is approximately £45 million per annum.[159] Despite restructuring, the club's debt prompted protests from fans on 23 January 2010, at Old Trafford and the club's Trafford Training Centre.[160][161] Supporter groups encouraged match-going fans to wear green and gold, the colours of Newton Heath. On 30 January, reports emerged that the Manchester United Supporters' Trust had held meetings with a group of wealthy fans, dubbed the "Red Knights", with plans to buying out the Glazers' controlling interest.[162]

In August 2011, the Glazers were believed to have approached Credit Suisse in preparation for a $1 billion (approx. £600 million) initial public offering (IPO) on the Singapore stock exchange that would value the club at more than £2 billion.[163] However, in July 2012, the club announced plans to list its IPO on the New York Stock Exchange instead.[164] Shares were originally set to go on sale for between $16 and $20 each, but the price was cut to $14 by the launch of the IPO on 10 August, following negative comments from Wall Street analysts and Facebook's disappointing stock market debut in May. Even after the cut, Manchester United was valued at $2.3 billion, making it the most valuable football club in the world.[165]


First-team squad

As of 30 August 2016[166][167][168]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Spain GK David de Gea
3 Ivory Coast DF Eric Bailly
4 England DF Phil Jones
5 Argentina DF Marcos Rojo
6 France MF Paul Pogba
7 Netherlands FW Memphis Depay
8 Spain MF Juan Mata
9 Sweden FW Zlatan Ibrahimović (third captain)[169]
10 England FW Wayne Rooney (captain)[170]
11 France FW Anthony Martial
12 England DF Chris Smalling
14 England MF Jesse Lingard
16 England MF Michael Carrick (vice-captain)[171]
17 Netherlands MF Daley Blind
No. Position Player
18 England MF Ashley Young
19 England FW Marcus Rashford
20 Argentina GK Sergio Romero
21 Spain MF Ander Herrera
22 Armenia MF Henrikh Mkhitaryan
23 England DF Luke Shaw
24 Netherlands MF Timothy Fosu-Mensah
25 Ecuador MF Antonio Valencia
27 Belgium MF Marouane Fellaini
28 France MF Morgan Schneiderlin
31 Germany MF Bastian Schweinsteiger
32 England GK Sam Johnstone
36 Italy DF Matteo Darmian
38 England DF Axel Tuanzebe

On loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
15 Belgium MF Adnan Januzaj (at Sunderland until 30 June 2017)[172]
43 England DF Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (at Wolverhampton Wanderers until 30 June 2017)[173]
44 Brazil MF Andreas Pereira (at Granada until 30 June 2017)[174]
No. Position Player
Uruguay DF Guillermo Varela (at Eintracht Frankfurt until 30 June 2017)[175]
England FW James Wilson (at Derby County until 30 June 2017)[176]

Reserves and academy

Former players

Further information: List of Manchester United F.C. players and Category:Manchester United F.C. players

Club captains

Player records

Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year

Club officials

Manchester United Limited
Manchester United Football Club

Senior club staff
  • Director of Group Operations: Paddy Lord
  • Director of Communications: Phil Townsend
  • Director of Business Development: Alan Dawson
  • Director of Legal and Business Affairs: Patrick Stewart
  • Director of Marketing: Jonathan Rigby
  • Director of Finance & IT: Steve Deaville
  • Director of Facilities: Clive Snell
  • Ticket Office Manager: Sam Kelleher[190]
  • Safety Officer: Charlie Coxon[190]
  • Stadium Manager: Ian Collins[190]
  • Grounds Manager: Anthony Sinclair[190]
Coaching staff

Academy coaching staff
  • Director of youth academy: Nicky Butt[196]
  • Head of Academy Operations: Nick Cox
  • Under-23s interim manager: Nicky Butt
  • Under-23s team assistant manager: Tommy Martin
  • Under-18 head coach: Kieran McKenna [197]
  • Under-18s coach: John Cooke
  • Under-13–16 head coach: Colin Little
  • Under-11–12 head coach: Tony Whelan
  • Under-9–10 head coach: Eamon Mulvey
  • Academy goalkeeping coach: Alan Fettis[198]
  • Academy goalkeeping coach (U9s–U16s): Jack Robinson[199]
  • Academy coaches: Eddie Leach, Mike Glennie
Medical & sports science staff
  • Club doctor: Dr. Steve McNally[200]
  • Assistant club doctor: Dr. Tony Gill
  • First team physiotherapist: Neil Hough[201]
  • Senior academy physiotherapist: Mandy Johnson
  • Academy physiotherapists: John Davin & Richard Merron
  • Masseurs: Gary Armer, Rod Thornley & Andy Caveney
  • Club dietician: Trevor Lea
  • Head of Performance: Tony Strudwick[202]
  • Head of Strength & Conditioning: Dr. Gary Walker[203]
  • Head of Human Performance: Dr. Richard Hawkins[204]
  • Head of Recovery & Regeneration: Robin Thorpe
  • First Team Senior Sports Scientist: David M. Kelly
  • Sports Scientist: Paulo Gaudino

Managerial history

Dates[205] Name Notes
1878–1892 Unknown
1892–1900 England A. H. Albut
1900–1903 England James West
1903–1912 England Ernest Mangnall
1912–1914 England John Bentley
1914–1922 England Jack Robson
1922–1926 Scotland John Chapman
1926–1927 England Lal Hilditch Player-manager
1927–1931 England Herbert Bamlett
1931–1932 England Walter Crickmer
1932–1937 Scotland Scott Duncan
1937–1945 England Walter Crickmer
1945–1969 Scotland Matt Busby
1969–1970 England Wilf McGuinness
1970–1971 Scotland Matt Busby
1971–1972 Republic of Ireland Frank O'Farrell
1972–1977 Scotland Tommy Docherty
1977–1981 England Dave Sexton
1981–1986 England Ron Atkinson
1986–2013 Scotland Alex Ferguson
2013–2014 Scotland David Moyes
2014 Wales Ryan Giggs Interim player-manager
2014–2016 Netherlands Louis van Gaal
2016– Portugal José Mourinho


A photograph of three medals sitting on a stand. One medal is gold and two are silver.
Winners' and runners-up medals from Manchester United's UEFA Champions League final appearances in 2008, 2009 and 2011

Manchester United are one of the most successful clubs in Europe.[206] The club's first trophy was the Manchester Cup, which it won as Newton Heath LYR in 1886.[207] In 1908, the club won its first league title, and won the FA Cup for the first time the following year. Manchester United won the most trophies in the 1990s; five league titles, four FA Cups, one League Cup, five Charity Shields (one shared), one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Cup Winners' Cup, one UEFA Super Cup and one Intercontinental Cup.

The club holds the record for most top-division titles (20) – including a record 13 Premier League titles – FA Cups (12) and FA Community Shields (21). It was also the first English club to win the European Cup in 1968, and as of 2016 is the only British club to have won the Club World Cup, in 2008. United also became the sole British club to win the Intercontinental Cup in 1999. The club's most recent trophy came in August 2016 with the 2016 FA Community Shield.

The only major honour that Manchester United has never won is the UEFA Europa League,[208] although the team reached the quarter-finals in 1984–85 and the semi-finals of the competition's precursor tournament, the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup, in 1964–65.[209][210]






Doubles and Trebles

Especially short competitions such as the Charity/Community Shield, Intercontinental Cup (now defunct), FIFA Club World Cup or UEFA Super Cup are not generally considered to contribute towards a Double or Treble.[211]


  1. UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2016), "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
  2. Sources are divided on the exact date of the meeting and subsequent name change. Whilst official club sources claim that it occurred on 26 April, the meeting was reported by the Manchester Evening Chronicle in its 25 April edition, suggesting it was indeed on 24 April.
  3. 1 2 3 Upon its formation in 1992, the Premier League became the top tier of English football; the First and Second Divisions then became the second and third tiers, respectively. The First Division is now known as the Football League Championship and the Second Division is now known as Football League One.


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