Manchester United has claimed to have 659 million fans worldwide - making it the world's most popular team.

The Red Devils were recently named the most valuable team in sport by Forbes magazine, while football was named the world's most popular sport.

In a global study carried out by research agency Kantar Media, 54,000 respondents from 39 countries were quizzed on which team they supported. From the data, Kantar found that United has as many as 659 million supporters spread out across the globe.

Richard Arnold, the club's commercial director, believes the findings demonstrate the value of the United brand and the history surrounding the Premier League's most successful team.

On the club's official website, Arnold said: "Manchester United has built on a tradition of iconic teams and iconic achievements - Beckham, Busby, Benfica '68. Now our games are broadcast to 1.15 billion households globally, to an audience of over four billion a year."

Kantar's study estimates that Sir Alex Ferguson's team have 71 million followers in the Americas, 90 million in Europe, 173 million in Africa and the Middle East, and 325 million in Asia.

The market research company carried out the same study in 2007, and found that United's fan base has doubled in those five years. According to the research, the Red Devils have twice as many fans as nearest rivals Barcelona in Asia, one of the fastest growing markets.

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