Manchester United have taken another significant step in China by agreeing a new partnership with Alibaba Group.
The Old Trafford giants are one of the most popular sports teams in China, having first visited in 1975 and returned there in the summer for a pre-season friendly against Tottenham in Shanghai.
Earlier this year it was announced that club-themed experience centres are being built in the country, while United recently became the first Premier League side to create a China-specific app.
The Red Devils’ new partnership with Alibaba sees them take another considerable step as they look to build on their established fanbase in the region.
A joint statement says the deal “will bring exclusive rights to club content in China to Alibaba’s ecosystem for the first time”, which is available to 700 million consumers across the group’s platforms.
United will have a dedicated channel on Alibaba’s video-streaming platform Youku, while collaborating to establish a flagship store on Tmall, Alibaba’s business-to-consumer marketplace.
Richard Arnold, United group managing director, said: “We are proud of our passionate and loyal following around the world and our Chinese fans are a huge part of that.
“We are always looking for new ways to engage with fans there and this partnership with Alibaba enables them to connect with the club directly through one of China’s most popular video streaming platforms.
“We look forward to working with Alibaba to further grow our fan base in China and building on other areas of the partnership in the near future.”
Michael Evans, president of Alibaba Group, added: “With this cooperation we are leveraging Alibaba’s ecosystem to bring a unique Manchester United experience closer to fans and consumers in China.
“I look forward to developing other areas of strategic business cooperation in the future.”