Englands Most Successful Professional Football Club
Founded in 1878 as Newton Heath LYR Football Club, Manchester United Football Club was originally funded by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company. After the club changed its name to Manchester United in 1902 and moved to Old Trafford Stadium in 1910, it has grown and struggled to become the most successful football club in England.
During the late 1800s, the club known as Newton Heath played matches against other departments and rail companies. Soon after they began playing in a regional football league named The Combination. This league disbanded after just one season so the club joined the newly formed Football Alliance which several years later merged with the Football League.
By 1902 the club's name changed to Manchester United. They won their first league title in 1908. The following season ended with the team winning its first Football Association Cup title. By the late 1920s and early 1930s, not only was the team not winning many games, but the club's finances had deteriorated so badly that they were on the brink of bankruptcy. It was saved by James W. Gibson who decided to invest his money and assume control of the club in 1931.
The managerial appointment of Matt Busby in 1945 led to the club's turnaround. Busby took control over team selection, player transfers, and training sessions. Under his leadership the team earned a Football Association Cup victory in 1948. During the 1950s the club was known for its youthful players averaging 22 years of age. Nicknamed the "Busby Babes", they became the first English team to compete in the European Cup in 1957. They also defeated the Belgian champions Anderlecht 10-0 which remains the club's biggest victory on record. Unfortunately, tragedy struck in 1958 when a plane carrying the Manchester United players, officials, and journalists crashed while attempting to take off in Munich, Germany. The crash claimed 23 lives including eight players from the team.
Busby rebuilt the team through the 1960s and in 1968 Manchester United became the first English club to win the European Cup, beating Benfica 4-1 in the final. The 1970s proved to be less productive as managers were being replaced and the team reorganized. In 1981 Ron Atkinson became manager and under his leadership Manchester United won the Football Association Cup twice in three years between 1983 and 1985.
In 1986 Alex Ferguson replaced Atkinson as manager of Manchester United. A victory over Crystal Palace in the 1990 Football Association Cup Final replay saved Ferguson from being fired. The club went on to win another league title in 1993. The 1998-1999 season would prove to be the most successful in English club football history as Manchester United became the first team to win the FA Cup, the Premier League, and UEFA Champions League in the same season. The club also won the Intercontinental Cup in Tokyo after beating Palmeiras 1-0. The team won the 2008 FIFA Club World Cup followed by the 2008-2009 Football League Cup. Ferguson was knighted in 1999 for his services to football.
Manchester United has become the most popular football club in the world with the highest average home attendance in Europe. It is estimated to have anywhere between 75 to 333 million fans worldwide. The club is ranked second only to the New York Yankees as one of the most valuable sports team brands. Manchester United has also consistently enjoyed the highest commercial income of any English club with big sponsors like Nike, Sharp Electronics, Vodafone, and AIG. Their television channel, MUTV, has expanded its fan base beyond the Old Trafford Stadium.
Manchester United does have rivalries with Leeds United, Liverpool, and Manchester City. Despite the competition, Manchester United remains one of the wealthiest and widely supported football teams in the world. It also remains England's most successful football team having won a record 19 league titles, 11 Football Association Cups, 4 League Cups, 3 European Cups, and has been the only English club to have been world champions in 1999 and again in 2008.