Skip to main content

Experts: 'King' Ferguson may be out but brand Manchester United will survive

By Oliver Joy, CNN
May 13, 2013 -- Updated 0750 GMT (1550 HKT)
Alex Ferguson has announced he is retiring at the end of this season, having won his 13th English Premier League title in more than 26 years as manager of Manchester United. Alex Ferguson has announced he is retiring at the end of this season, having won his 13th English Premier League title in more than 26 years as manager of Manchester United.
HIDE CAPTION
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
In pictures: The reign of Alex Ferguson
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Experts: 'King' Alex Ferguson may be going but brand Manchester United will survive
  • Under Ferguson the team won more than 30 trophies, including 13 league championships
  • But the football team is bigger than just one man, brand experts tell CNN
  • Ferguson's retirement has already sparked speculation over his successor

(CNN) -- "King" Alex Ferguson is quitting Manchester United but the football team's $3.17 billion brand will survive, according to experts.

Ferguson -- the man who helped propel Manchester United to one of the world's biggest sport brands -- is set to step down at the end of the season after 26 years at the club.

The 71-year-old Scot has managed the English club -- which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and has millions of fans around the world -- since 1986.

During his 26 years as manager, Ferguson has won more than 30 trophies, including 13 league championships.

Watch more: What is Sir Alex's football legacy?

Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson announced he will retire at the end of the English Premier League season. Ferguson has managed the team for 26 years, making him the longest-serving manager in Premier League history. Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson announced he will retire at the end of the English Premier League season. Ferguson has managed the team for 26 years, making him the longest-serving manager in Premier League history.
Longest-serving coaches in sports
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
>
>>
Photos: Longest-serving coaches in sports Photos: Longest-serving coaches in sports
How Ferguson inspires players
How to manage like Alex Ferguson
Ferguson's retirement 'a sad day'

And while brand expert Jonathan Gabay believes there will be a period of uncertainty at the club following the exit of a "living legend," the "Brand Manchester United" will survive long after his reign.

"The king is dead, but that doesn't mean there will never be a king again," Gabay told CNN, "He [Ferguson] is part of a legendary football brand, but he's not bigger than the actual brand itself."

Watch more: Watch 2012 interview with Ferguson

Andre Spicer, a professor of Organizational Behavior at the Cass Business School in London, said the loss of a "great leader" such as Ferguson is similar to "enduring a death" for a company.

Ferguson's retirement has already sparked a media and fan frenzy of speculation over his successor. Spicer added that fans will idealize the achievements of Ferguson and as such "it becomes impossible for a successor to fill the old leader's shoes."

Watch more: Manchester United's future after Fergie

The Scot's decision to retire and the appointment of his successor could also have a significant impact on the club financially

Since the first season of the English Premier League in 1992/3 season, Manchester United's revenue has grown from £25.2 million to £320.3 million for the 2011/12 season. "Manchester United has been transformed as a football club under the management of Sir Alex Ferguson," according to Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.

While Andy Milligan, a partner at business consultancy, Caffeine, and author of football business book "Brand it Like Beckham," said that club owners, the Glazers, may go into "overdrive" in the next 24 hours to reassure global stakeholders that the club's stability, on the pitch, is not at risk.

Milligan said Manchester United's next appointment may be as much about reassuring investors outside the U.K. as it will be for sporting reasons.

Milligan told CNN: "Football is a very volatile market place. But if you add U.S. stock market pressures to football; it could be an explosive mix."

Manchester United's American owners, the Glaziers, listed the soccer club on the New York Stock Exchange in August and its growing commercial success is highly dependent on performances on the pitch, according to Joshua Raymond, a market strategist at London-based financial services firm, CityIndex.

"Replacing Alex Ferguson is a monumental task and one that shareholders will watch with great interest and nervous uncertainty," he said in a note on the firm's website.

Raymond wrote that the appointment of Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho would be "a much safer appointment in the eyes of the United board and shareholders" while the appointment of Everton manager and bookmakers favorite, David Moyes, would "come with great risk" due to his lack of experience with big clubs.

In his note, Raymond went on to say that Mourinho would be the only appointment that could increase the club's brand recognition.

Manchester United is one of the world's most valuable clubs -- second only to Spanish giants Real Madrid -- according to a study by financial experts, Forbes.

In the club's third-quarter results, the English Premier League champions posted record revenue of £91.7 million ($142 million) on the back of new sponsorship deals in Asia and Europe.

The club, who have just claimed their 20th league title, reported a 52.2% increase in sponsorship revenue having announced new deals with two financial services providers in Denmark and Vietnam as well as an agreement with a Japanese social gaming company.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0626 GMT (1426 HKT)
A year ago, 1,000 garment workers died in the collapse of Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh. Here's a look at what has changed since then.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0453 GMT (1253 HKT)
Focus is on the fish as U.S. President starts tour with visit to legendary Tokyo restaurant.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Fireworks are fantastic and human endeavor has its place, but sometimes Mother Nature outshines any performance we can produce.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0306 GMT (1106 HKT)
In 1987, China sent its very first email. Here's what it said,
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 0213 GMT (1013 HKT)
The world's new fastest elevator will fling you from earth to the 95th floor before you're done reading this article.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
In one U.S. state, a new bill will allow ordinary citizens to carry guns in all sorts of places. Does it make you feel safer?
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1410 GMT (2210 HKT)
In South Korea, volunteer divers are risking their lives to rescue victims of the sunken ferry.
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1915 GMT (0315 HKT)
Park Jee Young, 22, helped passengers escape as the Sewol ferry sank -- giving out life jackets while refusing to wear one herself.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1643 GMT (0043 HKT)
What did outgoing manager David Moyes get wrong in his six months with English Premier League football team Manchester United?
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT)
In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, here are 15 of the world's most amazing theaters.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
CNN exclusive: Australian officials are hammering out a new agreement for widening the Flight 370 search area.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Malaysian officials sent to brief Chinese families are armed with little to no information.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1545 GMT (2345 HKT)
When a team of Indian surgeons opened up the stomach of a 63-year-old man, they had no idea they'd extract a fortune.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 0701 GMT (1501 HKT)
Do these photos CNN of gun-toting men wearing green uniforms prove Russian forces are in eastern Ukraine?
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1711 GMT (0111 HKT)
If the Duchess wears it, then your fashion career is sorted for life.
April 24, 2014 -- Updated 1729 GMT (0129 HKT)
Browse through images you don't always see on news reports from CNN teams around the world.
ADVERTISEMENT