- English soccer team Manchester United will open a trio of soccer experience centers in three Chinese cities.
- Manchester United is European soccer’s best supported team in China, with over 107 million followers.
- The Premier League side has partnered with Chinese property investor Harves to complete the deal.
English soccer team Manchester United will be expanding its presence in China, by opening three new entertainment experiences in the country by 2020.
The announcement was made Tuesday in partnership with Chinese property investor Harves and will see Manchester United Entertainment and Experience Centres open in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang by the end of next year.
Manchester United has over 107 million online followers in China, according to the annual Red Card report carried out by technology agency Mailman Group in 2018. It looks at the influence of European soccer teams in China and puts the English team ahead of Spain's Real Madrid and Germany's Bayern Munich.
The proposed entertainment centers will contain interactive attractions and exhibitions for supporters to experience the feeling of being at Manchester United's Old Trafford stadium.
The Beijing site will be close to Tiananmen Square, with all the centers creating an immersive match day feel, as well as housing restaurants and a club shop.
"(We're) offering our millions of Chinese fans the chance to experience the club in a new and innovative way," Manchester United Managing Director Richard Arnold told the club's website on Tuesday.
"We first visited China in 1975 and we're proud to have seen our fan base in the region grow and develop their passion for United over the years. This new concept will allow them to get closer to the club they love." Arnold added.
Manchester United has not won the English Premier League title since 2013 and recently sacked its latest permanent manager Jose Mourinho. However, it remains England's most successful club in terms of league titles with 20 and property investor Harves was keen to partner with it.
"Rooted in its unique approach to training, its storied legacy and leadership, and its status as the most successful club in the world, we will create a fully immersive experience that entertains, educates, and inspires the next generation of football fans." said Harves CEO Bo Zhang in a statement on the Manchester United website.
The club has visited China on several occasions to play pre-season friendly matches, most recently in the summer of 2016.