MANCHESTER: Even though Manchester United is the most viewed English Premier League football club on YouTube, clocking up a huge 843m views since the start of the 2017-18 season, it has resisted having an official YouTube channel – until now.

Policy has changed and the club, which has a massive fan base around the world, has decided to follow other major players, such as Barcelona and local rival Manchester City, in partnering with YouTube after eschewing the site for 13 years.

Until now, Manchester United has relied on building its own online presence through Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – it has more than 73m Facebook followers – as well as distributing content via its own pay-TV channel.

According to the Guardian, Manchester United is unlikely to be motivated by the prospect of sharing revenues with Google. Instead, the move is more about brand building and tapping the data the new YouTube channel should generate.

“The club’s vision is to be the largest and most engaged sports club in the world. Our presence on platforms such as YouTube will allow us to achieve this vision,” said a spokeswoman for Manchester United.

“YouTube will allow us to continue to evolve our demographics, as well as provide us with analytics and insights to feed not only our media and content plans but other cross-club initiatives,” she added.

Richard Broughton, Research Director at Ampere Analysis, agreed that the decision by the “Red Devils” finally to sign up to YouTube is a reflection of its global brand building ambitions.

“The revenues are pretty small compared with income from the sale of TV rights and sponsorship,” he said. “It is not a brilliant platform to make massive quantities of money if you are already a big brand. It is more about brand building and hitting different demographic groups.”

Separately, in other football-related marketing news, Danish brewing giant Carlsberg announced at the end of last week that it plans to end its sponsorship of the England national team after a relationship dating back 22 years.

Confirming the move to Campaign, Liam Newton, VP of brands at Carlsberg UK, said: “Carlsberg has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with the Football Association and England for over 20 years. However, we now feel it is time for us to broaden our partnerships as a brand in the UK.

“We get most value out of partnerships that create rich content and fantastic brand experiences and enable us to tell our unique story, history and heritage.

“As such, we will start to shift the balance of focus into new areas such as our extended, five-year partnership with Live Nation, and our eleventh year as the official beer of Glastonbury.”

Sourced from Manchester United, Guardian, Campaign; additional content by WARC staff