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Manchester United: The business of soccer

Alex Ferguson's decision to retire after 26 years as manager of Manchester United (MANU) throws England's most successful soccer club into a rare period of uncertainty.

Winning the richest national soccer league for 13 of the last 21 years has guaranteed a big slice of broadcast revenue, and allowed the club to amass a global following of over 650 million – a loyal and lucrative market for merchandising partners and sponsors such as Nike (NKE), General Motors (GM) and many others.

By Mark Thompson, CNNMoney International Editor