Manchester United's engagement on par with a religion, says sporting director Richard Arnold

Paul Pogba (L) performs the Dab with Jesse Lingard after scoring for Manchester United
Image: Manchester United are outperforming any sports club in the world in social engagement, says Richard Arnold

Manchester United are bigger than any celebrity and are on par with a religion on social media, says sporting director Richard Arnold.

United, whose Facebook page has more than 71m likes and Twitter followers in excess of 9m, are the world's leading sports club in terms of interaction, according to Arnold. 

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Paul Pogba's world-record £89m transfer was supported with a social media campaign 'Pogback' and Arnold claims it surpassed the unveiling of Real Madrid's Gareth Bale and Barcelona's Luis Suarez, and the sporting director has not held back in putting United's global reach into perspective. 

"The level we are engaging at, to put it in context, is akin to religion," Arnold told the Web Summit 2016, in Lisbon, as quoted by the Daily Mail.

"John Lennon was famously quoted as saying The Beatles were 'bigger than Jesus'. Whilst we wouldn't want to be disrespectful in that way, what you are seeing from a measurement point of view is that the level of engagement and fervour we get is on par with the world's major religions and those are the only things at the same level as Manchester United in terms of that interaction and engagement."

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Despite having not performed to the same levels on the pitch as the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in recent seasons, Arnold claimed United have more than 650m followers across the world, saying "that's like two Americas that love the same team".

"We just had our billionth interaction on Facebook," he added. "That's incredibly valuable because it allows us to gauge what fans like and allows us to adjust our behaviour going forward." 

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United are competing on a social engagement level which no celebrity comes near to, according to Arnold, who is adamant this is one area the club are outperforming any other sports team. 

"We are on a different scale to other clubs in our league," he said. "We are also the biggest in the world at what we do across any sport and any team.

"Sport is one of the most engaging things in the world. Within that we are the most engaged."

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