Manchester United have appointed Universal Sports chief executive David Sternberg as the club’s head of media.
The ex-Fox Sports Sternberg is expected to oversee MUTV, the club’s website, mobile and social media presence in what will likely be a new era for the club.
“I don’t understand it [Twitter] to be honest with you. I don’t have the time to do it. There are a million things you can do with your life other than that. Go to a library and read a book. I’m serious. What a waste of time.” Sir Alex Ferguson, 2011.
Sir Alex Ferguson was not exactly an advocate for social media. He was a staunch believer that it was a waste of time with the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and Darren Gibson all running into trouble on it.
But his retirement means that there is likely to be a new digital direction with social media quickly becoming one of the most important aspects of communication that there is.
As it stands, United are the only Premier League club without an official Twitter account but the increased activity of @ManUtd_PO, the official press office account of the club, indicates that a presence is not far away.
With the likes of Michael Carrick and Shinji Kagawa joining Twitter recently and United players already being active on Instagram, a social media presence already exists but I expect it to increase significantly under Sternberg.
United already have 33 million Facebook likes but with a reported fan base of 659 million, there are so many more fans that do not yet have as much access to the club as they would like. Given the Glazers insatiable desire to enter United into every global market known to man, I am surprised a big digital push hasn’t happened earlier.
Although Sternberg’s appointment does not affect the role of Phil Townsend, United’s current director of communications, it will affect how the club communicates with the fans.
Sternberg will likely oversee a much needed website revamp, improvements to make MUTV bigger and better and a real social media presence from United being built. It should help bring the fans one step closer to the club.
So long as the club makes the improvements it needs and gives the fans better access to the club and players, I can’t see this digital revamp as a bad thing as United’s online presence has always been rather poor.