Daily Debate: Are United world's biggest?

After Ed Woodward's recent claims, two TEAMtalk writers debate whether Man United are the biggest club in the world.

Last Updated: 17/09/14 at 16:06 Post Comment

Ed Woodward (right): Claimed United are world's biggest club

Ed Woodward (right): Claimed United are world's biggest club

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In Daily Debate, two TEAMtalk writers give their views on a hot topic and then invite readers to decide who has put forward the best argument.

You can vote for your winner using the story comment facility at the bottom of the article, or by declaring your support on Twitter.

Is Manchester United really the biggest club in the world?

In light of the spending power on show from football superpowers Barcelona and Real Madrid, Manchester United vice-executive chairman Ed Woodward has reacted bullishly.

Woodward says Louis van Gaal's new side "are the biggest club in the world. There is no question in my mind about that." But is he right?

Despite finishing seventh in the Premier League last season, United's trophy cabinet is bulging and they remain an attractive proposition for commercial deals around the world.

But is Woodward right in his assertion? Can Manchester United rightfully call themselves the biggest club in the world? Mark Holmes and Matt Stead have their say.

Mark Holmes (@Homzy) - Yes

The debate over which club is biggest will never end. After all, 'biggest' can be defined in many different ways.

Does it refer to the club with the most trophies? Or perhaps the club with the biggest fanbase? Or maybe even the club with the most money in the coffers at that moment in time?

It's a debate that cannot be won or lost, but United are one of only four clubs that can be seriously considered in the conversation taking into account history and, crucially, the present. Liverpool and Ajax, for example, may have had claims for the title at one stage, but a recent lack of sustained success for both clubs rules them out of the equation.

Until the disaster that was last season, however, no club had ever dominated English football to the extent that United did under Sir Alex Ferguson. To win 13 of 21 titles in a league also containing Arsenal, Liverpool and more recently Chelsea and Manchester City is quite extraordinary.

Commercially, meanwhile, although they appeared to have fallen behind the rest of the 'big four' when the latest figures were released, there is no doubt that United still lead the way. The world-record adidas kit deal proves that, but it's the club's ability to seal smaller sponsorship deals that sets them apart. They've had more partners than Russell Brand; there is literally nothing the club cannot sell.

It is United's worldwide fan base, however, that presents their best case to be called the world's biggest. The popularity and global reach of the Premier League has given them a huge helping hand, of course, but the Red Devils are almost undoubtedly the most popular club in world football.

There are no doubt surveys suggesting otherwise - although quite how anyone would go about proving worldwide support is anyone's guess - but anyone that has travelled will attest to the remarkable amount of United shirts that can be spotted in far-flung corners of the world. Barcelona are the only club that could even come close to matching their global appeal.

It's impossible to say whether United are the undisputed biggest club in the world, but Woodward's claim is certainly not without reason.

State your support for Mark using the story comment facility below or by getting in touch on Twitter @TEAMtalk.

Matt Stead (@MattStead91) - No

So, in a week where European champions Real Madrid make James Rodriguez the fifth most-expensive player ever - and a week after Barcelona made Luis Suarez the third most-expensive player ever - Woodward claims Manchester United are the biggest club in the world.

Fair enough, they signed a monumental £750million kit deal with adidas just last week, and have lucrative ties with Chevrolet amongst plenty of other global names. The fact is, though, they lag behind Europe's elite in many areas.

In terms of trophies, United's 62 major victories eclipses most, including Liverpool's 60. However, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real can all boast bigger hauls. At the end of the day, football is all about what you win, and the latter three have more to show for their efforts both historically and in the present day.

While United's current kit deal with adidas is a world record, too, they're still trumped in the money stakes. Real have topped the revenue table for nine consecutive years, while Barcelona joined them in becoming the only sides to ever top half a billion euros in revenue last season.

As aforementioned, Real made Colombia star Rodriguez a £63million player this week. His and Suarez's respective moves means that Real and Barca's market moves alone comprise the top five most expensive in history. This disregards the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luis Figo and Kaka, who were all bought for figures beyond Manchester United's record outlay on one player.

Indeed, just take a look at United's last year in terms of transfers. Would the biggest club in the world be turned down by Toni Kroos, Cesc Fabregas or Thiago? Would the biggest club in the world struggle to tempt Arturo Vidal or Mats Hummels to their door? I doubt it.

They're undeniably a massive club and a global force, but they are amongst the chasing pack in terms of the biggest in the world, with Barca, Bayern and Real leading the race by quite some margin.

State your support for Matt using the story comment facility below or by getting in touch on Twitter @TEAMtalk.

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