Manchester United got one over on Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona when the Forbes rich list was announced earlier today, with the magazine once again rating the English champions as the most valuable club on the planet.
The Red Devils’ estimated £1.4 billion worth means their value is also greater than the New York Yankees baseball team and the Dallas Cowboys American Football team, and cements the club’s place at the very top of the sporting hierarchy.
Two German clubs – Bayern Munich and Schalke – also make the top ten, whilst AC Milan and Juventus complete the elite places in sixth and ninth.
“Broadcasting revenue is the key, particularly in the UEFA Champions League. The total payout last year was $1.14 billion, 23% more than the previous year. That has been driven by the broadcasting revenue, and that payout is going to increase even more next year for the 32 teams who make it into the competition,” noted Forbes’ Michael Ozenian.
“Manchester United, although their lead over Real Madrid and Barcelona, is still the top team, mainly driven by the 16% increase in their commercial revenue – sponsorship and advertising. They’ve got that huge deal with Nike, which has fueled their overall increase.”
It’s the consistency of Sir Alex Ferguson’s side that makes them so marketable for sponsors, and whilst they failed to deliver in Europe’s top competition this season, their constant challenge for trophies makes them a marketing dream.
“The better you do in the domestic league the more TV money you get. Manchester United are consistently at the top of the Premier League and in Europe, this year not so far, but still they are very consistent.”
Recognised as the most watched league in the world, United have an advantage over their Spanish rivals with the help of a large Premier League following in Asia. The most successful team in England over the past 20 years, Forbes notes that the club’s fan base sits at around 330 million.
And, whilst everything remains rosy at Old Trafford no matter what, the value of the Champions League will not be lost on the other clubs fighting for a finish in the top four.
Liverpool will be nervously noting that their revenue will be affected by another year out of the competition, whilst Tottenham Hotspur will be desperate to hang onto fourth in the division as they look to break the top ten – they currently sit in 11th.
In all European competition, it’s been a year to forget for England, so often the dominating nation in the Champions League. Chelsea have been the surprise package, after United and Manchester City missed out in the group stages and then again in the Europa League.
They joined Stoke City, Birmingham City and Fulham in failing to make an impact in the competition, after the aforementioned three all fell in either the group or first knockout round.
Arsenal, consistent in making it past the group stages in the European Cup, again failed when it really mattered against AC Milan in the last 16. With so many top clubs doing well financially, the reflection on the pitch has been sparse this season.
The question to ask is whether this season was simply a blip on the radar, or a serious problem that could affect the game on these shores.
We won’t find out until next season, of course, but one thing Forbes are predicting is a rise in the rich list for some of Germany’s rising stars, with a bumper pay-deal on the cards for the Bundesliga.
“I think this has been a league traditionally driven by the English leagues, but the Sky Bundesliga, which hold the TV rights in Germany, is on the verge of having a 50% increase in what they are willing to pay the teams in that league, and that could have a huge affect on the German teams making it into the top 20 in terms of team values,” concluded Ozenian.
English teams better buck their ideas up quickly on the European stage if they don’t want to be the teams overtaken by this rising German wave. Success in the Premier League alone simply won’t suffice in the future.