Man Utd play­ers get a good sleep – with Chi­nese help

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By CHRIS PETER­SON in Lon­don chris@mail.chi­nadai­

As if be­ing paid tens of thou­sands of pounds a week isn’t enough, play­ers at Manch­ester United, one of Eng­land’s lead­ing pre­mier­ship teams which has a re­puted 100 mil­lion fol­low­ing in China, are now get­ting a good night’s sleep — thanks to the club’s lat­est spon­sor.

Shang­hai-listed Mlily, a lead­ing mat­tress and pil­low maker, signed a five-year deal with the club to be­come United’s first-ever of­fi­cial mat­tress and pil­low part­ner.

That trig­gered an im­me­di­ate out­flow of puerile jokes on Twit­ter. Weibo (the Twit­ter-like so­cial me­dia plat­form) fol­low­ers were even more caus­tic.

“Manch­ester United play­ers can con­tinue to day­dream on the pitch,” said one.

Club cap­tain Wayne Rooney, cur­rently strug­gling to main­tain his place in the club’s reg­u­lar lineup, trig­gered this sar­cas­tic com­ment from an­other Weibo user: “Rooney can only lead the start­ing lineup un­der this cir­cum­stance by get­ting more sleep.”

Manch­ester United has form when it comes to sleep­ing pat­terns for its play­ers.

Back in the club’s most suc­cess­ful pe­riod, when Sir AlexFer­gu­son was in charge from 1986 to 2013, he in­tro­duced sleep­ing pods at the club’s train­ing ground.

Fer­gu­son also hired the ser­vices of Nick Lit­tle­hales, a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive with the UK’s Slum­ber­land mat­tress James Ni, man­u­fac­turer, who is now a rec­og­nized sleep coach, train­ing sports­men of all dis­ci­plines.

It is the sleep­ing pods at the club’s train­ing fa­cil­ity that Mlily will equip with pil­lows and mat­tresses.

James Ni, founder of Mlily, told the club’s web­site: “Our ex­pe­ri­ence has re­sulted in stress-free sleep and health­ier lives for cus­tomers. These re­sults are now avail­able to Manch­ester United play­ers, and will find a wider au­di­ence due to our global part­ner­ship.”

Manch­ester United made no com­ment.

Mlily’s deal, for which no value was an­nounced, is the lat­est in a stream of Chi­nese in­vest­ment in Euro­pean soc­cer.

InMarch this year Dalian Wanda Group be­came the first Chi­nese en­tity to be­come a full part­ner of FIFA, soc­cer’s world gov­ern­ing body, sign­ing a deal which will see it have spon­sor­ship rights to the next four World Cup com­pe­ti­tions.

Alibaba E-Auto, the elec­tric car sub­sidiary of Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd, signed a deal with FIFA last year to be­come the ex­clu­sive pre­sent­ing part­ner of the FIFA Club World Cup for the next eight years.

In Jan­uary, Chi­nese elec­tron­ics gi­antHisense Group signed as a global spon­sor of UEFA EURO 2016, the firstever spon­sor­ship deal with a Chi­nese com­pany in the cham­pi­onship’s 56-year his­tory.

Hisense will also spon­sor other UEFA na­tional team com­pe­ti­tions un­til the end of 2017, in­clud­ing the Euro­pean Qual­i­fiers for the 2018 FIFAWorld Cup, UEFA Fut­sal EURO 2016, the 2017 UEFA Euro­pean Un­der-21 Cham­pi­onship and UEFA Women’s EURO 2017.

In Eng­land, China Me­dia Cap­i­tal took a stake in­Manch­ester City in Oc­to­ber last year.

Other Chi­nese com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als have this year ac­quired out­right West Bromwich Al­bion, Birm­ing­ham City, As­ton Villa and Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers.

There have been re­ports that aChi­nese group is look­ing to buy Pre­mier­ship ti­tle con­tenders Liver­pool FC, and in Italy AC Mi­lan is in the process of be­ing sold by for­mer Ital­ian Prime Minister Sil­vio Ber­lus­coni to a Chi­nese group of in­vestors, and ri­vals In­ter Mi­lan was ac­quired by China’s Sun­ing Group.

Our ex­pe­ri­ence has re­sulted in stress-free sleep and health­ier lives for cus­tomers.” founder of Mlily term of the mat­tress and pil­low spon­sor­ship deal be­tween Mlily and Man Utd

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