Manchester United Football Club - biggest club in the world?!

El General 1994

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Just catching up with the FDJ transfer thread and there has been a discussion about what the thread title is. Rather than the FDJ transfer thread be taken off track, can we discuss it here?

This topic has always fascinated me and my fellow friends. Are we? Have we ever been? Is it obviously Real Madrid (history and recent achievements suggest that this should be a forgone conclusion).

My head says no...but the heart never lies....

MODS: Please feel free to delete this as it may have been discussed before.
 

Korwas

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Real Madrid is the biggest, but that doesn't mean you can't love another club.
 

cyberman

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Yep, club with the biggest fans are the biggest club and that’s us. May not last forever but it is what it is.
we are a generation or two away from it being nothing but EPL clubs at the top imo
 

ExoduS

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We should be happy if we are in top5. We stank for almost a decade, soon over a decade. We are barely in top4 in England in the past decade.

It was a great ride with Fergie but man o man mediocrity sucks when it hits your team.

Sadly this will affect fan base going forward. Children born 2008 and later think of Man UTD as inferior team to Bayern, Liverpool, Man City, Real M, Juventus, Chelsea, Barcelona, PSG perhaps even Atletico Madrid.
 

TrustInJanuzaj

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Biggest in terms of fans which is a huge factor. I think Jose was right when he said we are part of a small group of gigantic clubs. I’d still say Madrid, Barca, Bayern, Utd, Liverpool, Juve (possibly Milan) are in an elite group above the rest in terms of history, fanbase, size etc and the rest still labour behind in various ways. That of course isn’t always reflected on the pitch though which should be the most important factor as a fan.
 

Coops73

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I think we are…just and certainly up there with Real but the Glazers are slowly but surely changing that.
 

Newtonius

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Huge club yeah but it doesn't mean anything our team is dreadful and we have cancerous owners.

How many kids these days do you see wearing United jerseys? Not as many as i used to even 5 years ago.
 

golden_blunder

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What does the biggest club in the world even mean? A dick measuring contest
 

Cloud7

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“Biggest” is a very vague term that doesn’t have any defined meaning. I would say there isn’t any singularly biggest club in the world, but rather a select few clubs that include United, Real, Barcelona, Bayern, Milan and Juventus.
 

sullydnl

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Depends what you mean by "biggest".

In terms of the size of our fanbase we might be. Often the term is brought up in regards to appeal to players or general standing in the football world though, in which case we're obviously not. Though the word "prestigious" might be a better one to use in that context.
 

Buster15

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What does the biggest club in the world even mean? A dick measuring contest
My thoughts exactly.
It is a very subjective judgement with no defined parameters or metrics.
But that doesn't stop people from having an opinion.

If anything, it should be a function of, but not exclusively:
Annual Turnover.
Achievements over a rolling period of time.
Not sure whether UEFA produce some sort of club ranking.
Average home attendance.
Some metrics on global audience.
Something like that.
 

Roane

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I think the whole "biggest club" is only relevant when winning stuff or being thereabouts.

As a kid growing up Aston Villa were a big club. Imo nufc are a big club and arguably are they "smaller" than say Chelsea?

Certainly in terms of world football Chelsea are one of the big clubs simply due to winning titles and in that comparison nufc are minnows. Depends what your overall measure is.

Man City are a strange one for me. As a UTD fan I've seen Man city have decent followings in the lower leagues and their fans stuck by them. Now they are big on the world scene but we laugh at their ability to fill their ground.
 

AaronRedDevil

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About 5 years ago kinda. But we are like AC Milan. Once huge reputable club now a joke. Before last season.
 

Cassidy

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No never have been. Madrid always were bigger. One of them yes we were, that is at risk if we don’t sort our shit out
 

Dannn411

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Newsflash, nobody cares about being the so called "biggest club" if it does not translate to anything on the pitch and in terms of on-pitch performance (which matters above all) over the last 10 years, we're not even top 10.
 

JPRouve

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No United aren't the biggest club and it's not important.
 

Keane's Prawn Sandwich

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I guess it comes down to what the determining metric is. By fan base we are third with Real Madrid and Barcelona above us.

Real Madrid social media:
Instagram: 99.5 Millions
Facebook: 111 Million
Twitter: 37.5 Million
Youtube: 6.52 Million Subscribers

Barcelona social media:
Instagram: 97.5 Millions
Facebook: 103 Million
Twitter: 36.9 Million
Youtube: 11.8 Million Subscribers

Man United social media:
Instagram: 41 Million
Facebook: 73 Million
Twitter: 32.7 Million
Youtube: 4.08 Million Subscribers
 

harms

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I don't think so, no. Real was always bigger/more prestigious even though we've done enormously well with Beckham, Rooney & Cristiano during the time when football was rapidly expanding its global influence.

We were probably the second biggest club in the world during the second half of Fergie's reign. The Italian clubs took a step back due to the enormous commercial success of the Premier League and Barça wasn't yet the absolute juggernaut that it became during the Messi era (although the process of their transformation from a really big club to arguably the biggest started with Ronaldinho, I'd say).

At this point, after a decade of never-ending misery, I'm not even sure if we're really the biggest club in England. We probably still are as those things are incredibly inert, but certainly not by a huge margin — Liverpool are combining their historical success with their current golden era and City have done a fantastic job (:mad:) at establishing a perfect football structure as well as being very smart in their media & PR activity, taking in a lot of younger fans.

Bayern are also not far of us, probably, but they always prioritise their internal market over the global influence — and while Bundesliga had been gaining some ground over the past decade, it's still nowhere near Premier League in terms of the global appeal.
 

harms

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I guess it comes down to what the determining metric is. By fan base we are third with Real Madrid and Barcelona above us.

Real Madrid social media:
Instagram: 99.5 Millions
Facebook: 111 Million
Twitter: 37.5 Million
Youtube: 6.52 Million Subscribers

Barcelona social media:
Instagram: 97.5 Millions
Facebook: 103 Million
Twitter: 36.9 Million
Youtube: 11.8 Million Subscribers

Man United social media:
Instagram: 41 Million
Facebook: 73 Million
Twitter: 32.7 Million
Youtube: 4.08 Million Subscribers
It's so ridiculous that Cristiano has more followers on Instagram that all the three clubs combined (actually, almost twice that!).
 

sullydnl

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I think the whole "biggest club" is only relevant when winning stuff or being thereabouts.

As a kid growing up Aston Villa were a big club. Imo nufc are a big club and arguably are they "smaller" than say Chelsea?

Certainly in terms of world football Chelsea are one of the big clubs simply due to winning titles and in that comparison nufc are minnows. Depends what your overall measure is.

Man City are a strange one for me. As a UTD fan I've seen Man city have decent followings in the lower leagues and their fans stuck by them. Now they are big on the world scene but we laugh at their ability to fill their ground.
Side note but I wonder how many kids these days are Man City fans?

I think I read that if you're around 20 you've seen Man City win as many league titles as United and obviously the younger you are from there the more it skews towards City. Has that success actually translated into way more kids growing up supporting City? Or does it still skew way more towards traditional big sides? People who have or work with kids might know.
 

harms

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The most interesting hypothetical would be if we would've been able to elevate ourselves over Real Madrid if Cristiano was to stay with us in 2009.
That peak Messi vs Cristiano era brought in so much attention to La Liga, elevating those two well ahead any other club in terms of the viewership's interest.
Although we still would've been managed by Glazers and it was Perez first and foremost who had managed to eventually catch up with Barça on the pitch.
 

AltiUn

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No, but I think the difference in stature between the top 10 clubs (Real Madrid aside) is barely negligible anyway.
 

Invictus

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Real Madrid is the clear-cut biggest club in the world by most metrics, and has been for much of the last 60-ish years — despite what other clubs claim.
  • 14 Champions League titles, 35 La Liga and 19 Copa del Rey — that's just an unbelievable tradition of success, over a lot of different periods.
  • Near-unmatched history of utterly world-class players with 11 Ballon d'Ors between them: Di Stéfano, Kopa, Puskás, Didi, Gento, Netzer, Pirri, Breitner, Butragueño, Redondo, Raúl, Hierro, Carlos, Laudrup, Zidane, Figo, Fenômeno, Cristiano, Modrić, Benzema, and on and on.
  • Extremely popular in Hispanophone regions like South and Central America (and increasingly popular in the rest of the world as well, where they would have a historically significant following if games were widely broadcasted in English).
  • One for the accountants: highest average rank in the Deloitte money list, ahead of Barcelona and United.
Then you have a second or third tier with obvious candidates like Barcelona, United, Milan, Bayern, Juventus, Liverpool (all of which are active or dormant juggernauts, though the Italian giants have been in decline for the purposes of this discussion for a while now). The standing of Madrid shouldn't matter to fans of other clubs anyway, unless they're following the institutions they do follow for personal bragging rights (which sounds decidedly unromantic), and United in particular is massive enough that folk need to be perfectly secure in themselves — instead of seeing Madrid's bigness (which doesn't mean much all things considered) as a slight against United. Spare a thought for the lovely peeps who diligently follow actual minnows of club football (in all different parts of the world); there's a lesson to be learned there: big or small, through thick and thin — you support your team, and that's that! :)
 

Cassidy

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The most interesting hypothetical would be if we would've been able to elevate ourselves over Real Madrid if Cristiano was to stay with us in 2009.
That peak Messi vs Cristiano era brought in so much attention to La Liga, elevating those two well ahead any other club in terms of the viewership's interest.
Although we still would've been managed by Glazers and it was Perez first and foremost who had managed to eventually catch up with Barça on the pitch.
Madrid were already bigger and thats why Ronaldo went there. I don’t think him staying would have changed that to be honest
 

JPRouve

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Real Madrid is the clear-cut biggest club in the world by most metrics, and has been for much of the last 60-ish years — despite what other clubs claim.
  • 14 Champions League titles, 35 La Liga and 19 Copa del Rey — that's just an unbelievable tradition of success, over a lot of different periods.
  • Near-unmatched history of utterly world-class players with 11 Ballon d'Ors between them: Di Stéfano, Kopa, Puskás, Didi, Gento, Netzer, Pirri, Breitner, Butragueño, Redondo, Raúl, Hierro, Carlos, Laudrup, Zidane, Figo, Fenômeno, Cristiano, Modrić, Benzema, and on and on.
  • Extremely popular in Hispanophone regions like South and Central America (and increasingly popular in the rest of the world as well, where they would have a historically significant following if games were widely broadcasted in English).
  • One for the accountants: highest average rank in the Deloitte money list, ahead of Barcelona and United.
Then you have a second or third tier with obvious candidates like Barcelona, United, Milan, Bayern, Juventus, Liverpool (all of which are active or dormant juggernauts, though the Italian giants have been in decline for the purposes of this discussion for a while now). The standing of Madrid shouldn't matter to fans of other clubs anyway, unless they're following the institutions they do follow for personal bragging rights (which sounds decidedly unromantic), and United in particular is massive enough that folk need to be perfectly secure in themselves — instead of seeing Madrid's bigness (which doesn't mean much all things considered) as a slight against United. Spare a thought for the lovely peeps who diligently follow actual minnows of club football (in all different parts of the world); there's a lesson to be learned there: big or small, through thick and thin — you support your team, and that's that! :)
Exactly. While Real Madrid are a ridiculously popular and succesful club, the clubs behind them are massive and have no reason to as you said feel insecure.
 

TsuWave

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Side note but I wonder how many kids these days are Man City fans?

I think I read that if you're around 20 you've seen Man City win as many league titles as United and obviously the younger you are from there the more it skews towards City. Has that success actually translated into way more kids growing up supporting City? Or does it still skew way more towards traditional big sides? People who have or work with kids might know.
Anecdotal - my nephew, Mancunian kid, household is completely United fans - up until he was 5/6 said he was a United fan - saw him last year, I think he’s 8/9 now - asked him if he still watches United he said no he’s a City fan - I looked at his dad shocked and his dad just said “most of the kids in his school and all his friends are City fans“

it’s not shocking really, kids like belonging, and want to support winners, and City does that along with having the players that get them excited. De Bruyne for example. If Haaland starts scoring here like he did in Germany then -

but yeah, United’s slide will probably be felt more in terms of fanbase 10 years from now.
 

Van Piorsing

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Not the biggest, but coolest one for sure. In time I started my United journey, Milan was a juggernaut and resembled R.Madrid in more than few aspects.

SAF at the end of 90's turned United into global monster, no doubt about it, and it was back in a day when there was still no social media, because United never needed any sophisticated tool to get what they desired. Everything revolved around pure relentless football ambition.

Literaly everyone knew about United, even random people at the street, including one guy who borrowed a newspaper from me when he peaked, I'm reading 5 page article about United which was daily occurance in every newspaper then.