A pessimist might conclude that Alex Ferguson, the Scot who took Manchester United to great heights, would in-debt his legacy to his on-pitch stubbornness and man management. The man had been among the best tacticians in the world, and perhaps that made him a suitable pin-up for the many managers who appreciate the way he did things. But the pessimist would be mistaken to a certain extent. Here are a few long-term consequences of Ferguson’s impact on Manchester United, the city of Manchester and football in general.
1. Alex Ferguson – the revenue generator.
None can deny that there has been an impressive upward surge in the fortunes of the club from 1986. Revenues of the club have just increased by $39 million in 1992 to $502 million as it stands in late 2013. One may argue that the trend of increased financials in the way the sport is seen today, can be attributed to United alone, however they have had a significant part to play in it. Currently, the club boasts several sponsors ranging from official automotive partner to official timekeeping partner to official savory snack partner in the form of Mister Potato. Increase in merchandising revenues and that from local and international TV deals is a further testament to Ferguson’s impact on the club. And the streams will only expand as international brands wait for an opportunity to tie up with the club – the club that resonates globally among 100+ million fans.
“Over 5 million items of Manchester United branded licensed products were sold in the last year, including over 2 million Manchester United jerseys. Manchester United branded products are sold through over 200 licensees in over 130 countries.” – MU Finance
This is all possible because of what Ferguson achieved on the field. It took Manchester United six years before they lifted the English League title in 1993 since Ferguson took charge. Since then, the Red Devils have gone on to win 13 Premier League titles, 5 FA Cups, 2 Champions League titles and where also a one-time FIFA Club World Cup champions.
Yet, this critical vigor of Manchester United’s worldwide presence is often credited to how Matt Busby rebuild the team and ensuing success following the Munich disaster, a tragedy which drew universal acclaim.
The clubs position among the top most valuable sport team brands had decreased in October 2013. While it was once leading the pack in terms of global football brands, it had fallen behind to Real Madrid last year with a valuation of $433 million as recorded by Forbes. For the moment, the club’s current position does not affect the financials of the clubs.
Ed Woodward, Executive Vice Chairman commented as he announced the financial results for the 2014 fiscal second quarter, “We once again achieved a record revenue quarter with strong contributions from our commercial and broadcasting businesses despite the current league position, which everyone from the Team Manager down has acknowledged is disappointing. We continue to see meaningful opportunities to grow our commercial business and the popularity of football on TV is leading to continue broadcasting revenue growth – all of which bodes well for the long-term stability and financial strength of our business. We are also very pleased to have added a world class player in Juan Mata to our squad, who has already made a positive impact.”
2. The “Fergie Factor” and it’s impact to local economy.
The ‘Fergie Factor’ catchphrase is customarily synonymous when Manchester United, at several occasions, managed to score and win in the last few minutes of the game. Beyond that general tactical (if any) trend, the city of Manchester also capitalized on the phrase for it’s economic success. This ‘Fergie factor’ has contributed more than £1bn during his spell at Old Trafford.
Mike Emmerich, chief executive of New Economy, a think-tank on Manchester’s economic growth and prosperity, said: “When Sir Alex took over at Manchester United in 1986, the city was in many senses in the doldrums. The city had lost 160,000 manufacturing jobs in six years – the equivalent of 73 job losses per day – and more than 180,000 people were claiming unemployment benefit, double the current level.
“Today, in stark contrast, Manchester is once again a place of global success, both in sporting terms but far beyond that.”
Which basically sums it up.
Regardless of how pure Ferguson’s motives may or may not have been, what he has achieved is nothing short of terrific, and the subsequent knock on effect for Manchester has been his greatest legacy.