Sales of Alexis Sanchez shirts smashed the previous Manchester United record after his January arrival, executive vice-chair Ed Woodward has revealed.
Sanchez signed for United in a swap deal which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan leave for Arsenal during the winter transfer window and the 29-year-old’s commercial impact was immediate.
As Woodward explained on Thursday: “Alexis Sanchez has set a new January signing record in terms of shirt sales, three times the previous record.”
Woodward was speaking during a conference call with investors following the publication of the club’s second-quarter reports for 2017-18 and he added that the Sanchez-Mkhitaryan swap captured the imagination of supporters across the internet like never before too.
“This trade generated some interesting social media stats,” Woodward said. “It was the biggest United post on Instagram with two million likes and comments, the most shared United Facebook post ever, the most retweeted United post ever, and the hashtag #Alexis7 was the number one trending topic on Twitter worldwide.
“To put that into context, the announcement posts generated 75 per cent more interactions than the announcement of the sale of the world’s most-expensive player last summer when Neymar moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain.”
There was also good news for the entirety of the Premier League, with the United chief explaining that the English top flight continues to grow as a broadcasting giant.
“Reports of the death of live sport are greatly exaggerated,” Woodward commented. “I’ve just come from a Premier League meeting where research shows that the league’s global cumulative audience has increased nine per cent year-on-year, with particularly strong increases in Asia and North America.”
The league’s broadcast deal is set for revision following the 2018-19 season, with the bidding rights process set to come to a close soon, as Woodward explained.
He said: “I need to be careful around this as it’s a very sensitive point in time because the first round of domestic bids are due in on Friday, and all I can really say is that if you look at past history we would expect that the entire process of selling the domestic rights will conclude in a relatively short period of times, within a couple of weeks.”
A winter break is being considered as part of the talks over the next TV deal, with a Premier League statement this week saying: “The Premier League has been in discussions with the FA and EFL for several months regarding the challenges of the increasingly congested English football calendar and ways in which we can work together to ease fixture congestion while also giving players a mid-season break.
“Provided space can be found in the calendar, we are open to this in principle and will continue constructive discussions with our football stakeholders to seek a workable solution.”