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Manchester United have missed out on a proposed new training kit deal worth £200m over 10 years after the Manchester-based company The Hut Group had concerns about the supporters’ campaign to boycott the club’s commercial partners in protest at the Glazers’ ownership, the Observer understands.
Richard Arnold, United’s group managing director, was told on Friday that THG had pulled out of a contract which was due to start on 1 July.
The branding of Myprotein, a Cheshire firm owned by THG, was due to appear on United’s training kit and replace the branding of AON, sponsors of the club’s Carrington training centre.
Last Sunday’s supporter protest against the Glazers outside Old Trafford led to United’s game with Liverpool being postponed until the coming Thursday. THG, it is understood, was taken aback by the subsequent social media and online backlash against United’s partners.
An anonymous United fans group with the hashtag NOTAPENNYMORE launched an online campaign to boycott the club’s major partners, which include Adidas, TAG Heuer and Cadbury, and wrote an open letter to them vowing to target their products.
It is understood THG, a multibillion pound company with offices near Manchester Airport, was concerned that as a local business it would be targeted by disaffected fans in Greater Manchester.
AON’s agreement expires on 30 June, which means United may struggle to strike a new deal of similar value to that proposed with THG.
The Glazers’ move to join the now defunct European Super League heightened the supporter opposition towards the American family. There was also some disillusionment and embarrassment within the club at senior level about how the ESL breakaway was presented.
Both THG and United declined to comment, with those familiar with the deal at Old Trafford confirming there are no ongoing talks.