Manchester United Case Study

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What in detail are the core competencies of Manchester United football club? We can say that Manchester‘s « core » core competencies are first of all, their capability to play good football associated with their capability to manage successfully their brand name (“Branding”).

Play good football

Any football team that pretends to be one of the best in the world has to play good football and have good players in order to be attractive and credible to its public. One of Manchester United’s strength is that they own the best players in the world. One of Manchester United strategy is to buy the best players.


Manchester United has created a strong brand name associated with performance and rich tradition. It is really easy to recognize the club thanks to its colours (red and white) and its logo. Thus, the team can use its brand name in order to sell one core product “football” through several products (jerseys, credit cards and so on).

Moreover, there is also one more competency which is not a “core” core competency that cannot be disregarded:


Apart from being a good soccer team, Manchester is also a powerful commercial organization that differentiates themselves from other famous football clubs and provides them a competitive advantage. For instance, if we compare Manchester United to the famous Spanish football club “El Real de Madrid”, we can notice that both have the same core “core competencies” that is why they compete each other. However, the difference is made by Manchester Unitied’s capability to generate alternative cash flow thanks to the sale of merchandises which are very diverse.

Finally, Manchester United’s core competencies are the consequences of key resources used together in order to create value for the organization. Thus, resources such as Star players and other activities that create cash flows (MUTV, Stadium/fans and so on) are very important to retain Manchester United’s core competencies.

What threats exist to the retention of those competencies?

The retention of Manchester United’s core competencies can lead the football club into a vicious circle that can affect its success and thus its notoriety.

For instance, if one day Manchester United stops playing good football (because they’ve lost several tournaments and consequently they’ve lost their main sponsors which are an important source of income), it will affect its brand name and thus, the sale of merchandises will not be a success anymore because it will not match with customer’s expectation anymore. Thus, its main revenue will decrease and the club will not have sufficient resources to buy Stars players and become a successful team again. Manchester United needs to develop a successful and sustainable business in order to avoid these threats. That is why the football and commercial operations have to work together and not as single parts.

Identify a strategy for a football club wishing to succeed 50 years ago and one wishing to succeed now. What are the changes of environment which have made necessary or desirable a change of strategy? 50 years ago

Football club were a non-profit organization, they did not face marketing, sponsors’ researches or huge incomes focused on players purchases. In order to succeed, United Manchester had to build a team culture, a friendly atmosphere to attract fans and to create an image of sociable and responsive football club. The team spirit was focused on friendly atmosphere, trainings and results.


The main goal of the Manchester United directive team is to build a brand, an image, to earn a lot of money, to buy best players. Players’ motivation is very important because if the team looses too many games, sponsors will not be interested anymore, fans will no longer buy tickets and football club incomes will decrease quickly. They could not buy any players to improve the game level. Thus, motivating players and training them is...
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