By Pete Wilson
11 February 2011
Manchester United have become the world’s most popular team, as measured by fans on Facebook, the social networking site that has more than 600 million active users across more than 200 countries. United overtook Barcelona in the past few hours, and currently have more than 9.053m ‘fans’ against Barca’s 9.050m.
Given the trends of additional fans over the past year, Manchester United will now remain as the No1 sports team in the world. No other sports team, in any sport in any country, is gaining anywhere close to as many fans as United. (United’s city rivals, Manchester City, who play United tomorrow, have 413,000 Facebook fans currently, for example, or fewer than 1/20th of the number of United).
United’s supporters might argue they have held the status of ‘world’s most popular’ for many years anyway. But in what amounts to the biggest ongoing opinion poll in the world, that status has now been corroborated.
For more background on this, see sportingintelligence’s story from earlier this week.
United’s status as the No1 team comes as they remain at No3 in the Deloitte Rich List of world football, behind Real Madrid and Barcelona. That list ranks clubs on income, and the Spanish giants remain No1 and No2 largely on the basis of massive TV deals and the strength of the Euro. United can argue that they are more widely followed around the world though, and point to Facebook as evidence. The task ahead for club commercial departments is how to turn followers into cash.