Manchester United Football Club - Greatest Sports Franchises
Manchester United Football Club - Greatest Sports Franchises

Manchester United Football Club - Greatest Sports Franchises

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
After being founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club in 1878, this club joined the Football League in 1892. Financial troubles plagued the team on more than one occasion during its early years, but they always came out on top. Man U was born in 1902 when John Henry Davies came on, and from there the club had a not-so-steady rise to greatness. Names like George Best, Denis Law, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo filled the rosters, and made this one of the most valuable sports brands on the planet. In this video, continues our series on the Greatest Sports Franchises of All Time with a look at Manchester United Football Club.

History of the Manchester United Football Club

This team of Red Devils was the first English club to win the Treble. Welcome to, and today we’ll be continuing our series of the most successful sports franchises with a look at Manchester United Football Club.

Early Years

Manchester United’s roots trace back to 1878 when the club was founded as Newton Heath LYR Football Club. By 1892, the club joined the Football League.

Financial Struggles

By 1900, financial problems plagued the team, but captain Harry Stafford convinced John Henry Davies to invest and save the team. On April 24th, 1902 Davies became president and Manchester United was born.

First League Title

The next year, Ernest Mangnall took over managerial duties. The club was soon back in the First Division, and by 1908 Man U claimed its first league title. The next year, they won their first FA Cup title.

Old Trafford

1910 saw the team move from Bank Street to Old Trafford. The next year, they won the First Division again, but things quickly collapsed. Years of spotty play resulted in Mangnall’s resignation.

More Money Trouble

By 1927, more money problems almost sunk the club. James W. Gibson rescued Man U in 1931, but the team continued struggling on the pitch.

Matt Busby

World War II’s end brought redemption: Matt Busby was hired as manager. Man U finished second in 1947, ’48 and ’49, won the FA Cup in 1948, and by 1952 the team won its first league title in 41 years. Back-to-back titles in ’56 and ’57 were made possible thanks to the “Busby Babes.”

Munich Air Disaster

Unfortunately, tragedy struck on February 6th, 1958, when an airplane carrying the Manchester United squad crashed. The Munich Air Disaster claimed 23 lives, including eight star players.

George Best

Jimmy Murphy took over for the injured Busby and led the squad to an FA Cup Final loss. Busby returned to rebuild the team, and signed young players like George Best in the 1960s. Best became known as the “fifth Beatle” due to his famous haircut, and was one of the first crossover stars. Man U took the FA Cup in 1963, and won the league in ’65 and ’67.

European Cup

Helped by European Footballer of the year Denis Law, Manchester became the first English club to win the European Cup in 1968. The next year, Busby retired and was replaced by Wilf McGuinness.

The 1970s

The 1970s were a rollercoaster decade for Man U: three years after being relegated, they climbed their way back to a 1977 FA Cup win.

Bryan Robson

Ron Atkinson was hired as manager in the early ‘80s, and he signed Bryan Robson from West Bromwich Albion. That expensive transfer succeeded: the club won the FA Cup in 1983 and ’85.

Alex Ferguson

Atkinson’s departure began the Alex Ferguson era. Ferguson dodged dismissal with a victory over Crystal Palace in the 1990 FA Cup Final. The next year, Man U won its first UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, and competed in the 1991 UEFA Super Cup to beat European Cup holders Red Star Belgrade. The following year, the club won its first ever League Cup.

David Beckham

In 1993, Man U claimed its first league title since 1967, and followed that with another win. An FA Cup win in ’94 nabbed the club its first Double. They repeated this incredible feat in 1995-96. That season was marked by the emergence of a new crop of young players, most notably David Beckham.


With his help, the 1998-99 Man U team clinched the Treble by winning the Premier League, FA Cup and UEFA Champions League. The squad’s victory in the 1999 UEFA Champions League Final remains one of history’s greatest comebacks.

Intercontinental Cup

Soon, the club claimed the Intercontinental Cup. Man U won the league again in 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2002-03, and managed another FA Cup victory in 2003-04.

Malcolm Glazer

After Malcolm Glazer purchased the club in 2005 in a deal that valued the team at over one billion dollars, Man U secured a European double with a 2008 UEFA Champions League win. Ryan Giggs surpassed Bobby Charlton’s record by marking his 759th appearance for the club.

More Achievements

2008-2009 achievements included the team’s FIFA Club World Cup win, as well as the ’08-’09 Football League Cup and their third successive Premier League title. Star player Cristiano Ronaldo was also transferred to Real Madrid for £80 million.


Man U is one of the most valuable sports brands in the world. With an estimated 75 to 333 million fans around the world, Manchester United is one of the greatest franchises of all-time.