EPL club Manchester United will host a fan event in Brooklyn this weekend around its match against Newcastle, its latest outreach to the U.S. The event, part of its #ILoveUnited global series, will feature live entertainment, giveaways, competitions and a screening of the team’s home match. Former players Andrew Cole and Louis Saha will also appear at the event, which will take place Saturday at Brooklyn Bridge Plaza at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The event series, which began in '11 and has now visited 102 cities around the world, is an important part of the club’s efforts to connect with fans abroad, said ManU Dir of Partnerships Sean Jefferson. The club will host 50 global events within this year. He said, “There’s only so many people we can get into Old Trafford, and although we’re really proud of the number of media platforms that we can connect with them on, we think it’s increasingly important to give the fans a face-to-face experience with the club." Jefferson noted that the event, which is free and distributed tickets randomly to those who signed up online, was initially planned to allow 2,000 to attend. However, more than 6,000 have applied thus far.
SPONSORS ACTIVATING AS WELL: The event serves as an important piece of commercial development for the club, Jefferson noted, as 16 of the club’s partners will be activating alongside the event through branding, ticketing or activations. Those include Aon, adidas, Chevrolet, Columbia, CyT, DHL, Deezer, EA, Epson, HCL, Mlily, New Era, Tag, TMS, Uber and Yanmar. Jefferson said, “Part of the conversation with our partners is asking them what markets are important to them, what sort of activations are important to them, and then we build a program around that." Commercial activation was a part of the club’s tour this past summer during the Int'l Champions Cup. Jefferson said that during the 17 days the club was in the U.S. for the tournament, it staged 97 commercial events ranging from breakfast meetings to rooftop parties to management and leadership discussions at its corporate HQ. ManU is working with Relevent Sports, who also host the ICC, on the fan event this weekend. Jefferson said that while the club has not yet announced any additional plans for U.S.-based events or activations, he expects a continued focus on growing the club’s brand here. “For us, it’s become really important -- in terms of social capital, it’s a top-five market,” he said. “We believe we’ve only reached half of the number of fans we can engage with in the U.S., so I only see growth ahead in this area of the world.”