English Premier League giants Manchester United have retained their position as the highest revenue-generating soccer club in the world for the tenth time, according to the 21st edition of the Football Money League by business advisory firm Deloitte.
The report, which examines the relative wealth of soccer clubs around the world and ranks them as a comparable measure of financial performance, found that the 20 highest earning soccer clubs in the world generated €7.9 billion (US$9.7 billion) of revenue in 2016/17, which was an increase of six per cent on the previous year. Deloitte also found that broadcast revenue is now the largest individual revenue stream for the Money League clubs, making up 45 per cent of total income.
United pip Spain’s Real Madrid by the narrowest margin to date between the top two, by posting revenue for the 2016/17 season of €676 million (US$829 million), €1.7 million more than the reigning European champions.
According to Deloitte, the Red Devils’ victory over Dutch top-tier side Ajax in the final of European soccer’s second-tier club competition, the Uefa Europa League, was a significant contributor to their financial success. United received €44.5m in payments from Uefa, which was more than four times what Spanish side Atlético Madrid received in 2011/12 for winning the same competition.
La Liga’s FC Barcelona are ranked third in a race which now requires revenue of almost €200m to guarantee a place in the top 20, which is almost double the amount required in the 2010 Football Money League edition.
England’s Premier League boasts ten teams in the top 20, the most ever from one country. Three clubs from Germany, three from Spain, three from Italy and one from France also feature in the top 20, but seven-time European champions AC Milan have fallen out of the Money League Top 20 for the first time.
Major movers include last year’s Premier League champions Leicester City, who climb up to 14th from 20th, and Southampton, who appear in the top 20 for the first time in 18th position with a broadcast revenue greater than the total revenue of 26th-placed Crystal Palace. Both teams benefited from their performances in European club competitions.
Elsewhere, Italy’s Inter Milan moved up four places to 15th owing largely to commercial growth following their takeover by Chinese company Suning Holdings Group, while North London-based Arsenal climbed into sixth.
Paris Saint-Germain remain the only French club in the Money League, in seventh place, though Olympique Lyonnais are ranked just outside the top 20 after benefiting from increased revenue from their move to a new stadium and a successful run to the semi-final of the Europa League.
Dan Jones, partner of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: “European football continues to flourish financially, with almost half a billion Euro of revenue growth for the top 20 Money League clubs. And at the top, we’ve seen the closest ever battle for the top spot.
“United’s ability to retain first position is all the more impressive against the backdrop of the weakened pound against the euro, and with both Real Madrid and FC Barcelona forecasting further revenue growth in 2017/18, the battle at the top will likely come down to on-pitch performance again next year. With all three clubs through to the round of 16 of the Uefa Champions League, it may be as simple as the club that goes furthest in the competition will have the best chance of topping the Money League next year.”
Tim Bridge, senior manager of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, added: “The Deloitte Football Money League has a particularly English feel this year and with the new broadcast deal and Uefa competition performance driving broadcast revenue growth of over half a billion pounds for those in the top 20, it doesn’t come as a surprise.
“As the Premier League is currently in the middle of its rights tender for the next cycle from 2019/20, the results of this will be crucial to determining the long term composition of the Money League.”