English soccer giants Manchester United, the world's richest football club, will launch a Chinese-language Web site in March to tap into the massive reservoir of support in Hong Kong and the mainland. The site - based on the existing English-language Manutd.com - will use simplified Mandarin characters and will almost certainly be free. Most Hong Kong people will be able to make sense of the characters or use widely available software to convert it into Cantonese. But clearly the Manchester club, former European champions, has its eye on the huge market potential of the mainland. A Malay version is also planned for launch at the same time, and the club has already employed consultants in Hong Kong to help investigate what football supporters here and on the mainland want from a Web site. It is also understood to be a world first for a major football club. While fellow European giants Barcelona of Spain have a bilingual official site - in Catalan and Castillian - and Italy's Internazionale have one in Italian and English, the Manchester club's move will be the first official site in Chinese or Malaysian. A Manchester United spokesman said: 'We intend the site to be up and running by March next year and it will be in Malay and Mandarin. 'There will be five or six sections within the site, based on the most frequently requested and visited sections within the current Manutd.com site.' The site will also focus on merchandising and, at some point after the launch, introduce interactive chat rooms for Far East fans. 'We are very mindful of the fact that we need to adapt in tone and within the aesthetics of the site,' the spokesman said. 'The look and feel will be slightly different, there will be elements of continuity from Manutd.com but equally there will be sections which will be tailored to the audience.' Manutd.com averages 8.5 million visitors a month. The new sites hope to pass that soon by tapping into a sizeable portion of what club officials estimate is a global fan base of more than 20 million. The secretary of Hong Kong's 1,500-strong Manchester United Supporters' Club, Rick Adkinson, said: 'Close on 80 per cent of our members are locals and many - the younger element - don't speak English, so this will be great for them. 'They are always asking [about a Chinese-language site] and we haven't been able to provide an answer. We thought it would just be in Malay, so this is good news.' Hong Kong supporters have their own Web site - manutd.com.hk - but its content is limited. Manchester United is valued at GBP1 billion (HK$11.45 billion) and has a further 199 official fan clubs worldwide. When the team visited the mainland and the SAR last year, the 40,000-seat Hong Kong stadium was sold out months in advance, as was the match against the Chinese national team in Shanghai, which was part of the same tour.