Manchester United, the English Premier League football club, is seeking to engage its 100 million fans in China with new experience centres and the launch of a dedicated Chinese-language app.

The club previewed a new experience centre in Beijing earlier this week at an event attended by football legends Wes Brown, Dimitar Berbatov and Peter Schmeichel.

The centre, which was built in partnership with Chinese property developer Harves Entertainment, is expected to open fully in 2020 and to be followed by further entertainment and experience venues across the country, starting in Shanghai and Shenyang.

According to Sport Industry Group, the preview centre showcased the “cutting edge experience” being developed ahead of its official opening and allowed Chinese fans a taste of what is to come.

Highlights included a full-scale replica of Old Trafford’s famous Trinity Statue, an interactive showcase of the club’s wins and most historical moments, replicas of the players’ tunnel and changing rooms, as well as the first official Manchester United megastore in China.

In addition to the centre, which is located close to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, Manchester United launched a Chinese-language app – the first time a Premier League club has done so – which will give fans access to exclusive videos and other digital content.

“We share a vision for an engaging and immersive entertainment experience that will allow young people and fans more access to the historic club,” said Bo Zhang, chairman of Harves.

“Most importantly, we want to bring families and fans together to have fun and to be entertained,” he added. “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.”

Manchester United’s initiative is well-timed because English football is hugely popular in China, as confirmed in January in Mailman’s annual Red Card report, which named the Premier League as the number one online European football league in China.

The report also revealed that Manchester United has the third biggest digital following in the country after Spain’s Real Madrid and Germany’s FC Bayern Munich.

Sourced from Sport Industry Group; additional content by WARC staff