Manchester United’s portfolio of global affiliates gained a proud new addition on Monday, with Chinese company Mlily etching its name in the club’s history books by becoming its first ever mattress and pillow partner.
The news is set to have a huge impact on the nocturnal needs of the Red Devils squad, with Mlily vowing to “support United in helping the sleep and recovery of players”.
Jose Mourinho can do little to prevent niggles, knocks or strains but insomnia should not be a problem for the duration of the five-year agreement.
For those knocked out by the dreariest of defensive drills, the company will also be delivering its products for the ‘sleep pods’ at United’s Aon Training Complex.
Club captain Wayne Rooney, midfielder Juan Mata and defender Luke Shaw were the high-profile names called upon to lend some star quality to the announcement. The trio each answered one question – translated into Chinese and beamed live on a worldwide feed – in a darkened room at the academy building in Carrington.
Here, we take a look at some of the other unexpected business associates United’s commercial department has attracted.
20th Century Fox
United have landed one of the biggest names of all as its feature-film partner and have already set to work on some crossover promotions.
Eagle-eyed fans at United’s game against Bournemouth in May spotted the team mascots daubed in blue paint in honour of Jennifer Lawrence’s X-Men character Mystique. But that was nothing compared with Wayne Rooney’s cameo in an advert featuring the film’s cast, during which he is selected to fight super-villain Apocalypse.
Cho-A Pharm Co Ltd
Any United staff struggling to get a prescription in Korea or Vietnam need not worry, for that is precisely the domain of their pharmaceutical partner in the region.
Hong Kong Jockey Club
This union has clearly been a success, with both parties agreeing to extend an initial four-year agreement by the same term earlier this year. United’s Academy play at least one match a year in Hong Kong as a result.
Ever missed lunch in Laos or had chocolate cravings in Cambodia? If you have, you may have noticed a wide range of confectionery snacks bearing the famous United crest. That’s the result of a 2014 deal between the club and the maker of the Euro Choco Pie.
Nissin Foods Group
The inventors of the world’s first ever instant noodle also have the distinction of being United’s global noodle partner. A television advert sees Nissin’s ‘Red Samurai’ dribble a ball through Manchester before a final skills showdown with some black-clad foes at Old Trafford.