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Aug 24, 2010

Ask Norman: United's record breakers

Norman Hubbard is Soccernet's resident anorak. If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to asknorman@hotmail.com and he'll try to answer as many as possible.

Who is the most capped player in the Premier League and who has scored the most goals for Manchester United? asked Amponsah Tabiri from Ghana.

He is not a current international, but the man with the most international appearances to his name is Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who played a record 130 times for Holland before retiring in 2008. Second, to my surprise, is Bolton's Ricardo Gardner with 109 games for Jamaica. He is just ahead of Manchester City's Patrick Vieira, who has represented France 107 times.

The scoring records at Old Trafford are dominated by Sir Bobby Charlton. Possibly United's greatest player, he scored 199 league goals and 249 in all competitions, which unrivalled since then. His former team-mate Denis Law, with 237 in all competitions, comes closest. Jack Rowley, who played either side of World War II, is the only other man with a double century with 211.

In addition, a further seven players have reached 150 - Dennis Viollet and George Best on 179, Joe Spence (168), Mark Hughes (163), Ryan Giggs (156) and Ruud van Nistelrooy and Paul Scholes (both 150), the latter reaching the landmark at Fulham on Sunday. The first five on the list were all Sir Matt Busby's players at some point, Spence struck between the two World Wars while Hughes, Giggs, van Nistelrooy and Scholes are from the Sir Alex Ferguson era; as Hughes' tally includes goals scored when Ron Atkinson was in charge, Giggs has struck most for Ferguson.

I want to know which team has played the most against Manchester United and never won a match, asked Asad from Pakistan.

That dubious privilege belongs to Wigan Athletic who have faced Manchester United 11 times and haven't even drawn a game, let alone won one. All 11 meetings have taken place in the last five years, 10 of them in the Premier League and the other in the 2006 Carling Cup final, which United won 4-0.

Wigan came closest to a point at the JJB Stadium (as it was then known) in March 2006 when Pascal Chimbonda's 90th-minute own goal gave United the win. As both games last season ended in 5-0 wins for Sir Alex Ferguson's team, the statistics suggest Wigan are getting further away from winning one. The other eight meetings include three 4-0 wins and two by a 3-1 margin. The overall aggregate score is: Manchester United 35 Wigan 4.

Often in Champions League broadcasts you see a stat onscreen showing how many kilometres a player ran; how exactly is that distance measured? asked Neil Higginbotham of Austin in Texas.

UEFA have used a company called Tracab which specialised in sports statistics and data. A spokesman explained: "We have several fixed cameras covering the field positioned around main camera position, these are in real-time stitched together to a panorama of the entire field from with which we track all the objects in 3D."

I would really like to know when replica kits for fans were first introduced, asked Nkem Nwafor.

The first English club with official replica kits were Leeds United in 1973. Having finished third in the old Division 1 and runners-up in both the FA Cup and the European Cup Winners' Cup the previous year, Leeds were one of the most successful and glamorous clubs of their era and their money-conscious manager Don Revie thought it would be a way of increasing revenue and - correctly - reasoned fans would be willing to pay to wear the same shirt as their heroes.

Leeds' kit in the 1973-4 season was manufactured by Admiral and, with Revie's side winning the title that year, it proved an opportune time to sell it. Incidentally, while the famous white strip was the first fans could buy, it was nonetheless copied, Revie remodelling Leeds in the white of the great Real Madrid side of Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas. Previous strips had involved various combinations of white, yellow and blue.

What is the prize money for the winners of European Champions League, Europa League, the Premier League and the FA Cup. Also, is there any prize money for the winners of the World Cup and the European Championship? asked Adesanya Ayeni in England.

The World Cup is the most lucrative tournament to win, bringing in $31 million for Spain. Their reward for winning Euro 2008 was €7.5 million, plus a participation fee of another €7.5 million, bonus money for points gained in the group stage, a €2 million payout for reaching the semi-finals and a further €3 million for progressing to the semi-finals.

Other competitions may prove more profitable, thanks to television revenue, gate receipts and other forms of income, but the actual prize money is less: €7 million ($9.3 million) for winning the Champions League (though there are further payments simply for reaching the group stages as well as those for games won and points secured within it) and UEFA claimed Barcelona's run in 2009, when they won the competition, produced $43 million in television rights and prize money. Winning the Europa League final produces €1 million, though it is worth more than that: clubs are rewarded with a payment for participating in the group stage and for progressing to each subsequent stage.

Chelsea took home £16 million for winning the Premier League last season, where each club was separated by £800,000 in prize money (Portsmouth, in 20th, got £800,000; Manchester United, in second, £15.2 million). For winning the FA Cup, they got £1.8 million. That is another competition where each round produces prize money - for instance, each of the 32 clubs who won a third-round fixture got £67,500. To clarify, I've quoted all prize money in the currency (dollars, Euros or pounds) in which it is paid.

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