Posted on May 31
The move came weeks after GM said it would no longer advertise on Facebook or at the Super Bowl, the American football championship and one of the country's most-viewed television events each year.
Joe Ewanick, GM chief marketing officer said football, or soccer as it is known in the United States, has a broad fan base around the world.
"More than 3.5 billion people follow soccer and only about 400 million people follow the NFL," added Ewanick, referring to the US National Football League, which controls the Super Bowl.
"We have to go where the our customers are," he said.
Ewanick declined to put a dollar figure on GM's support for Manchester United, but he said the Chevrolet brand, long identified with American sports, now sells 60 percent of its vehicles outside the United States.
Though they lost this year's English Premier League title, Manchester United has a record 19 league titles and is arguably the most popular sports team in the world, with hundreds of millions of fans across Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.
In April Forbes magazine ranked it the world's most valuable football team, worth $2.24 billion.
Ewanick said part of the new sponsorship money will come from what GM would have spent on the Super Bowl and Facebook.
Ewanick said the Super Bowl audience has peaked. GM sources also said the television networks had increased the price tag on Super Bowl ads by 20 percent, to roughly $4 million for a 30 second ad for the 2013 championship.
The money saved will also go to sponsorship of a China Cup Football tournament in China, the world's largest car market and GM's key target market outside the United States.