Manchester United ‘most followed club in China’

Manchester United’s Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic (2R) is congratulated by teammates after scoring his team’s third goal from the penalty spot during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 first-leg football match between Manchester United and Saint-Etienne at Old Trafford stadium in Manchester, north-west England, on February 16, 2017. Manchester United won the match 3-0.<br />Oli SCARFF / AFP

Manchester United is the most popular club online in China but the Bundesliga’s web presence far outstrips the English Premier League, a new study has shown.

The survey by sports marketing company Mailman also found that Cristiano Ronaldo was the player with the biggest presence among Chinese fans with United’s Wayne Rooney, who has been linked with a move to the country, ranked fifth.

Manchester United has the most followers on China’s Twitter-style Weibo, with 8.8 million, and a table-topping 700,000 monthly reads on the WeChat service, according to the report.

Germany’s Bayern Munich placed second for online presence with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City rounding out the top five, and Real Madrid sixth.

But the Premier League is far less visible than the German Bundesliga, Mailman said, crediting its “full digital presence”, including a Chinese-language website and live streaming, and the success of the German national team.

“The Bundesliga has been committed to digital innovation ever since we entered the market,” Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert was quoted as saying.

“We are glad to see that our multi-channel digital strategy is reaping great results both in terms of reach and fan engagement.”

Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil, Gareth Bale of Real Madrid and United forward Anthony Martial completed the top five most visible players online.

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