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Manchester United intend to use Twitter to 'listen to' 650million 'supporters'

The club recently launched an official Twitter account, and already have over 600,000 followers

Manchester United group managing director Richard Arnold has revealed the club intend to use Twitter as one of the ways of improving fan communication.

Sir Alex Ferguson was famously distrustful of the popular social networking site, questioning why his players, including Rio Ferdinand, did not go to a library and read a book to fill their time.

Since Ferguson's exit as manager however, United have launched their own official Twitter feed, that by the end of their pre-season tour to the Far East and Australia had already attracted in excess of 600,000 followers.

With another version on the Chinese equivalent Sina Weibo tapping into the world's most populous country, United feel they are more in tune with a worldwide support they estimate to be in excess of 650million than ever before.

Together with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who recently confirmed an intention to restore the words 'football club' to United's badge, Arnold is now responsible for the day-to-day running of United following the departure of highly-regarded chief executive David Gill.

He feels exploring the social media avenue can only be a benefit, even if the most vehement anti-Glazer fans groups, IMUSA and MUST, have been hoping for more direct communication with them.

"One of the things about being the biggest club in the world is that you have to keep looking for areas you can improve on," Arnold told Press Association Sport during an interview carried out in the club's office in Hong Kong.

"Just as we think we can learn about media management from Apple we will look at people in all areas of our business.

"We have to set areas for improvement off the pitch and fan communication is one.

"Nothing has changed in that regard. I want to make sure we listen to all the opinions.

"We have recently launched Twitter and Sina Weibo. One of the reasons for doing that is that it is not just helpful getting information out, it is a fantastic tool for listening to what people think."

Arnold likens it to a bar-room discussion.

Some views will be relevant and have the potential to be acted upon, others may well be dismissed out of hand.

But the point is, an avenue for dialogue has been opened, although he is adamant that does not mean the match-going fan will be ignored either.

"One of the challenges of my role is to do the right thing for the long-term health of the club, look at all the feedback we are getting and take a view on that," said Arnold.

"We get a full spectrum of opinion. Some of the views we get will be really helpful and we will be able to learn from them. Some will be part of a balanced view we take.

"One of the commitments both Ed and I made was to listen and in addition, I hope to do everything in my power to make sure the people who attend those games in the stadium recognise they are every bit as important as we think they are."