English soccer giants Manchester United have announced plans to open a series of club-themed entertainment and experience centres across China.
The move is part of a collaborative agreement with Chinese property developer Harves in a deal worth ‘tens of millions of pounds’, according to the South China Morning Post.
The first facilities are slated to open in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang by the end of 2020 as part of the Premier League club’s plans to capitalise on their popularity in the Asian country.
Each venue will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology to create interactive and immersive experiences for United fans in China. Visitors to the centres will be able to experience the feeling of a matchday at Old Trafford and learn about the history and heritage of the club. The facilities will also house restaurants and a club retail store.
“We’re very excited to be partnering with Harves on the Manchester United Entertainment and Experience Centres concept, offering our millions of Chinese fans the chance to experience the club in a new and innovative way,” said United’s managing director Richard Arnold.
“We first visited China in 1975 and we’re proud to have seen our fanbase 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.”
The move marks United’s latest effort to engage with its fanbase in China, where the club say they have 100 million followers. Last year, United retained top spot as the most popular team online in China, according to Chinese sports digital marketing agency Mailman Group’s Red Card study.
“We are excited to bring the rituals and emotions of the Manchester United experience to the youth in China, capturing what it feels like to be a member of this elite club,” added Harves chief executive Bo Zhang. “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.”