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Survey shows one in ten follow United

A survey conducted on behalf of Manchester United has concluded that the club has an estimated 659 million supporters, almost 10% of the world's entire population.

• Kagawa close to United switch

Carried out by market research firm Kantar, the survey showed United have doubled their number of fans over the past five years, with the Red Devils having twice as many followers in Asia as La Liga giants Barcelona.

The projections were made as a result of responses from 54,000 people across 39 countries, who were asked which "team or teams they followed", with the geographical spread believed to include 108 million fans in China, 55 million in Indonesia, 35 million in India and 26 million in Vietnam.

The club's commerical director Richard Arnold was left delighted with the findings and dismissed notions that the survey was no longer relevant as it was conducted after the United had won the Premier League last summer, before their first trophyless campaign in seven years.

"Our family of followers has doubled in five years and across the world this represents a very, very important asset and relationship for the club,'' Arnold said.

"It is one of the huge myths that fans are fickle. Research by Barclays globally showed that 85% never change the team they support - think of that in terms of the divorce rate. It changes less often than who you are married to.

"If you have been to China or New York and seen the Beatles effect at airports and hotels then it becomes very easy to appreciate the way people feel.''

Arnold said the support had contributed to United's commercial success - their training kit sponsored by DHL is now the fourth-highest selling kit worldwide, while 10,000 United branded Honda motorcycles that went on sale in Thailand sold out in two weeks.

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