Man Utd Premier Cup: Tournament with a Difference

Initially the Nike Premier Cup, this tournament makes an impact on many U-15 players
by Anil Kadiyala   |   Wednesday, August 07, 2013

#FootyBiz - column on international football business, soccer marketing and finance.

It’s been 20 years now since Nike had initiated a tournament that to date stands out for creating a strong impact within the soccer fraternity for U-15 teams.

Established by Nike as a regional event in 1993, the Manchester United Premier Cup, previously known as Nike Premier Cup, is probably the largest global tournament held for U-15 soccer teams. The event was renamed as Manchester United Premier Cup in 2003 after Nike agreed on a kit sponsor deal with Manchester United.

With the ever growing craze for soccer, the tournament has gone global over the years. As it stands today, 43 countries participate in this event with over 9,000 teams competing in the 2013 edition and the top 20 teams across the globe qualify to participate in MUPC World Finals every year.

What this tournament has done is it has given the local teams an opportunity to compete with the best in the country for starters, and then moving up the ladder to compete with the best teams in the world.

Talking about the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Messi, Torres and others having played this tournament, and then on the other hand looking at the local teams from various countries participating in the event, says a lot about the global reach of this tournament.  

Nike and Manchester United have done something that no one has done on such a large scale. Nike had identified an opportunity way back in 1993; an opportunity that they believed would have made a significant difference to their target market as well as young soccer players. And this initiative, which had the right vision, has proved to be a master class. This is bound to have many benefits for both Nike and Manchester United.

Nike, over the years, has been fiercely competing with other sports apparel brands in the sports sector and by implementing this unique initiative they indisputably have gained more exposure to their potential and existing markets. And for sports apparel brands competing on the same lines within the same sector, an initiative with a difference is bound to increase their visibility.

By being involved with this tournament, Manchester United is offering their young fans an active role in the club. It is one thing to be a passive fan and cheer for your club and something else to actively participate in an event being organized by your favorite club. In reality, Manchester United is also offering fans of other clubs to take part in a soccer tournament.

This strategy is proof that clubs can try and use their sponsors to organize various events and competitions and reach out to their fans in a more effective way. On the other hand if the clubs are not actively involved in community development it leaves an opportunity for their sponsors to persuade those active clubs as soccer is a powerful tool for sponsors to cash in on.

Twenty years down the line, and in an era where clubs are looking for ways to establish a more pro-active connection with their fans, this initiative by Nike still stands out as one of the most productive commercial strategies put into practice.


Robert Gordon Univ.
Club Domestic:
Club Foreign:
Liverpool FC
A sports enthusiast and a soccer freak who previously worked in various sectors outside sports but eventually had to respond to the love of his life and at present working as a sports marketing professional.