Manchester United tops Asian marketing gains with EPL trophy tour to Orient

English Premier League champions Manchester United expects continued growth in Asia to drive sales of merchandise and revenue from commercial agreements. With more than 190 million fans in Asia, out of nearly 300 million around the world, the region had become "very important" to the team, Commercial Director Richard Arnold told Reuters during a press conference to promote MU's Asia Trophy Tour.

MU's turnover in the three months through March firmed 1% from a year earlier to 75.2 million pounds, led by a surge in commercial revenue. The club has seen rapid expansion of its Manchester United Cafe Bars in India, and in China, sales of sporting apparel has been an "overwhelming success", Arnold added.

"Asia is very important for anyone who is a genuine global phenomenon," he said. "The continued strong growth of this part of the world is important on the world stage and we're no different in that, with the significant proportion of our fans that come from this part of the world.

South Korean Ji-sung Park and other MU past and present players are accompanying the Barclays Premier League trophy for parts of its 12-day tour around Hong Kong (23 June), China (27-28 June), Indonesia (29-30 June), Thailand (1 July), Malaysia (4-5 July) and Singapore 6-7 July).

"We know from the huge response from the Asian-based supporters in our 16 million Facebook followers and our commercial partners in the area just how much our Asian fans celebrated the historic 19th title win, so we wanted to make sure they could be part of that history by taking the trophy to them," Arnold said. "Some of the players have taken time out of their summer holidays to say a big thank-you to those supporters and it promises to be a lot of fun."

MU have been visiting and playing in Asia since 1974 and last took the Premier League trophy around the Far East in June 2008. The current tour is supported by club partners Nike, Audi, Turkish Airlines, Hutchison 3, Danamon Bank, Singha, TM, PCCW and MUFB.