The 20 highest-earning football clubs in the world generated €7.4 billion (£5.5bn) of revenue in 2015/16, an increase of 12 per cent on the previous year, according to the 20th edition of the Football Money League from business advisory firm Deloitte.
Manchester United, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid complete the top three of the Money League, as they were in the first Money League, produced for the 1996/97 season. All three clubs broke the €600 million revenue barrier in 2015/16, the first clubs to do so. In the 20 editions of the Money League, there have been 42 different teams from across the world taking a place in the top 20, with only 10 ever-present clubs. Only Manchester United and Real Madrid have ever held the top position.
The 2017 Football Money League sees Manchester United regaining first place, breaking the 11-year hold that Real Madrid have had on the top spot. United’s revenue of £515.3 million (€689m) is the highest ever recorded by a football club and grew strongly across all three of the revenue categories (matchday, broadcast and commercial) compared with 2014/15. United’s matchday and broadcast revenues were boosted by their return to the UEFA Champions League, but it was commercial revenue growth of £71 million (€100m) that has led to United’s ascension to the top position.
“Manchester United have had to wait 11 years to regain their position as the world’s leading revenue-generating club and it has taken phenomenal commercial revenue growth to help them achieve this,” advised Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte. “In recent years, their ability to secure commercial partnerships with value in excess of that achievable by their peers has been the crucial factor in enabling the club to regain their place at the top of the Money League.”
“That said, they’ll face strong competition from FC Barcelona and Real Madrid to retain the top spot in next year’s edition, due to the lack of Champions League football, the weakening of the Pound against the Euro and, over the longer term, as other clubs enter the commercial market demanding similar deals, using United as the precedent.”
The English Premier League has eight teams in the top 20 this year, equalling its own record total. To cap a remarkable year, Leicester City take their place as the 20th highest revenue-generating club in football in the world. Boosted by their title-winning campaign, their 2015/16 revenue of £128.7 million (€172.1m) represents almost five times the revenue generated just two seasons previously in 2013/14.
Elsewhere, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham remain in seventh, eighth, ninth and 12th respectively. Significantly, Manchester City has climbed into the top five for the first time, in fifth place, following a successful run in the UEFA Champions League. This is the first time that England has had two clubs in the top five since 2011/12. West Ham United are the other English representative in 18th.
“The Money League continues to demonstrate the Premier League’s financial strength in depth,” declared Tim Bridge, senior manager at Deloitte. “The appearance of Leicester City shows that on-pitch success gives any Premier League team a chance of a position in the top 20.”
“With Leicester having already qualified for the Round of 16 in this year’s UEFA Champions League competition, we can expect to see them maintain their position in the top 20 and potentially climb a few places.”
The top five is completed by Bayern Munich, in fourth position, with Paris Saint-Germain falling to sixth. Once again, PSG are the only French club in the Money League, with FC Zenit St Petersburg the only Russian club. Italy provides four clubs in the top 20. Juventus lead the way in tenth place, with AS Roma (15th) climbing above their Italian counterparts, AC Milan (16th) for the first time in the history of the Money League. Internazionale complete the Italian entrants, remaining in 19th position. However, with the recent Premier League broadcast deals likely to give a significant boost to English clubs’ revenues in next year’s Money League, there is a very real possibility that one or both of the perennial Money League clubs, AC Milan and Internazionale could fall out of the top 20 next year.
“The 2015/16 Money League has seen overall revenue of the top 20 clubs grow by 12 per cent, compared with 8 per cent in the previous year,” added Bridge. “We can expect the growth rate to be strong again next year as the Premier League clubs benefit from increased revenue due to their record television contracts. There is a strong chance that almost all Premier League clubs will be in the top 30 clubs next year.”