Man U signs former Disney executive

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The Independent Online

Manchester United yesterday unveiled its latest signing with the announcement of Andy Anson, a former Walt Disney executive, as its new commercial director.

As the world's most successful club financially, the appointment of a new commercial director is just about as important as a new centre forward for the club.

Mr Anson will play a key role in its aim to convert more of its huge fan base, estimated by the company at 53 million, into paying customers of the Manchester United brand.

At the moment it has 1.9 million people on its database, with about 560,000 of them classed as active customers. The club's target is to have 3.5 million active customers by the end of 2005.

Manchester United yesterday declined to reveal to shareholders the size of Mr Anson's salary, saying the details of his contract were still being negotiated. The club said that Mr Anson, 39, who will start his new job in February, was currently a partner at OC&C, a global strategy consulting company based in London. He previously worked at Channel 4 and Walt Disney.

His arrival at the Old Trafford club resulted from the gap left in management ranks by the surprise departure of Peter Kenyon, the former chief executive, who was poached by Roman Abramovich to become chief executive at Chelsea.

Mr Kenyon's replacement, David Gill, previously fulfilled the role of commercial director when he was number two to Mr Kenyon.

Manchester United said: "He will be responsible for all of the company's commercial activities, including marketing and sponsor relations, business development, customer relationship management, financial services and membership."