Manchester United sign deal with HCL in step towards new digital strategy

Reuters , Wednesday 2 Sep 2015

English Premier League club Manchester United said on Wednesday it had signed a partnership deal with IT firm HCL Technologies to improve its website and app as it gears up to launch a new digital media strategy.

The 20-time league winners have struggled on the field since manager Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 but off it have continued to sign a string of lucrative commercial agreements under the ownership of the American Glazer family.

To further capitalise on the lure of its claimed 659 million global followers, analysts expect United to present a new digital media approach next year, which could see the club cater to local markets with premium subscription content, alongside an e-commerce platform and global or regional sponsorship deals.

United's latest tie-up will see HCL Technologies, one of India's big six IT firms, help design and build digital platforms capable of better engaging with fans. In turn, United could then explore more targeted content opportunities globally.

"This (partnership) is enabling us to deliver a platform that our digital offering would operate on," Manchester United Managing Director Richard Arnold told Reuters on Wednesday.

Both parties declined to give a value for the deal.

United, now fifth in the league after four games, reported a 17.7 percent fall in third-quarter revenue to 95 million pounds in May, a third consecutive quarterly decline because of the absence of Champions League money.

To try and revitalise its prospects this season, the club has spent over 100 million pounds ($153.09 million) on new players including French under-21 forward Anthony Martial, who is now the world's most expensive teenager after signing from Monaco for a reported 36 million pounds.

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