Cleat Geeks

Manchester United, Space & a Fans ‘Final Frontier’

“Manchester United flag flown in space after NASA astronaut Steve Swanson was given the Flag by Russian United fan Alexey Yakovlev”.


They say from space you can see the Great Wall of China, however even with 20/20 vision you would be very hard pressed to see Manchester, even on a sunny day. The River Irwell, Salford Quays, the Trafford Centre, the War Museum, the Lowry and Old Trafford, home of Manchester United, would all be invisible, even if you knew where to look.

That is why the above picture and the story that goes along with it are worth more that a second glance on a busy news day.MUphoto

The merchendise arm of Manchester United is second to none, it is a behomoth, a juggernaught in the commercial world. Manchester United in season 2014/2015 entered a $47 million-per-year shirt sponsorship deal with Chevrolet for the next seven years.

MUAdidasphotoUnited had also put in place a $750m Adidas agreement which came into effect on August 1st 2015, ready for the 2015-16 season. With these investments you would expect both adidas and Chevrolet to be looking for Manchester United to have a strong chance of winning the Premiership or / and the Champions League. Offering a return on their investment in the form of dollars or pounds filling their bank balances.

The commercial side of Manchester United, guided,it must be said ,by Ed Woodward is very much alive and healthy. However, you might question how much the average supporter really cares about selling noodles in China or soft drinks in Asia? You might also ask, if given the chance, how would a supporter promote his love for his club, in this case Manchester United.

Let me return to the story of the Manchester United flag in space once again.

According to the Manchester Evening News

spaceStation“Russian Reds fan Alexey Yakovlev has shown his love for the club by sending a United flag into space. Thanks to friends on the International Space Station making it possible, Yakovlev passed on the flag to NASA astronaut Steve Swanson to have it orbited around the Earth.

“I decided to send the MUFC flag to bring some space energy to the club,” Yakovlev told Red News fanzine. “I am very proud of what I did because United means a lot to me. We’ve waved our flag up in space – nobody can make it any higher!”.

A special certificate of authenticity was sent to Yakovlev to confirm the flag was flown on ISS expeditions 39 and 40 aboard the Soyuz TMA-12M spacecraft.The crew, who landed in September 2014, flew in space for 169 days and orbited the Earth a total of 2,704 times. Yakovlev’s intention is for the flag to be handed over to United officials when the club visit CSKA for the Champions League encounter in Moscow on October 21.exp40crew

The flag story highlights the difference between the commercial promotion of a club and a fans promototion of a club, any club,that they are literally ‘worlds’ apart. It would be very interesting to know how much Adidas or Chevrolet, or any of the miriad of Manchester United sponsors would have paid to have their ‘logo’ on the Manchester United flag in space.

As Yakovlev said,“I decided to send the MUFC flag to bring some space energy to the club,”. I am not sure where the term ‘space energy’ fits in the commercial world, but I suspect where supporters are concerned they would identify the flag in space as an act of sheer romance and devotion, even if they have never heard the words ‘space energy’ before.


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