London, Asharq Al-Awsat-Arabic-speaking Manchester United fans can now access their very own version of the football club’s official website.
www.arabic.manutd.com was launched on the 2nd of April and is the 5th version of the club’s official site, which also includes English, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.
Mark Hargreaves, General Manager of Manchester United Interactive told Asharq Al Awsat that according to research carried out in 2008; the club is estimated to have over 11million core Arabic speaking fans, and over 21 million (casual) followers. A figure he describes as a “significant percentage of our overall fan base”.
Hargreaves explains that apart from this huge fan base, the site aims to support Saudi Telecom’s (STC) sponsorship deal with the club, but would not elaborate wither or not his club was in the midst of further negotiations with STC or any other potential Saudi/Arab sponsors for the team, explaining that “any commercial discussions are confidential”.
The launch of the MU Arabic site serves as a first of two phases intended for the online service, with phase 1 being a news-centric offering which also provides STC with a fully translated MU news service for their mobile platform. “This will be followed up at the end of the season by delivering further enhancements to the site including a lot more fan focused content, club history and honors”, says Hargreaves adding that “Along with our partner STC we will also be bringing innovative content, competitions and interaction with fans which we are very excited about by delivering something to fans that we have never seen before in the world”.
It is worth mentioning that Manchester United, as well as many other popular English and European football clubs, have many unofficial Arabic websites as well as fan-pages on social networking sites like Facebook, where loyal fans take the burden of translating news items, interviews and uploading images and videos to share with fellow enthusiasts.