Manchester United have been knocked off their perch at the top of Deloitte’s annual Football Money League by Real Madrid but Tottenham’s rise means England’s ‘big six’ make the top 10 for the first time.
Now in its 22nd year, the Deloitte list ranks clubs by how much money they earn from broadcasting, commercial deals and match-day revenues during the 2017/18 season.
After two years in first place, United slipped to third behind Real and their Spanish rivals Barcelona, with Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Paris St Germain, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs completing the top 10.
Real, buoyed by their third consecutive Champions League win, generated a record 750.9million euros (£674.6million), retaking the Money League title for the 12th time but the first since 2014/15.
All the British clubs were slightly affected by a three per cent year-on-year decline in the value of sterling against the euro but the real reasons for United’s fall from first were below-par contributions from the Champions League broadcast pot and the remarkable growth in the Spanish duo’s commercial income.
That does not mean, though, that United or the rest of the Premier League are on their uppers – far from it.
While revenues at Old Trafford grew by only two per cent, they still earned £590million last season and the latest forecasts suggest they should surge past £615million this season.
Manchester City, Chelsea and Spurs, making the top 10 for only the second time, all enjoyed healthy increases in their turnover, while Liverpool’s run to the Champions League saw their revenue increase by a massive £90.6million, largely thanks to £222.6million in broadcast earnings.
While the extended stay at the national stadium is starting to annoy fans, the Wembley effect helped Spurs increase their matchday revenues by £26.5million.
Arsenal saw their income fall by nearly £30million and they fell from sixth to ninth in the table, a slide that illustrates the importance of Champions League TV money to every big club’s bottom line.
Further down the table, Everton and West Ham hold on to their 17th and 20th placings, respectively, but Leicester and Southampton dropped out of the top 20 to 22nd and 23rd. Newcastle, however, climbed to 19th, giving the Premier League nine teams in the top 20, one fewer than last year.
As well as Leicester and Southampton, Crystal Palace (24th) and Brighton (29th) are in the top 30 – a significant achievement for the latter considering they earned just over £1million in 1996/97, when they were fighting against relegation from the English Football League, but brought in £139.4million last season.
Taken together, the top 20 earning clubs, who all come from one of Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues, earned £7.4billion, up six per cent on last year, and Real, Barca and United earned almost as much as the entire top 20 reported in 2000.
Outside of England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, the only clubs to make the top 30 were Russia’s Zenit St Petersburg (25th), Turkish side Besiktas (26th) and Portugal’s Benfica (30th).
Broadcast revenue remained the largest individual income stream for the top clubs, accounting for 43 per cent of total revenue, but as pointed out by UEFA’s Club Licensing Benchmark Report last week, a noticeable trend is the growth of commercial income, including the lucrative business of pre-season friendlies.
In a statement, the report’s author Dan Jones, a partner in the Sports Business Group atDeloitte, said: “European football remains a bull market, with annual revenue growth of almost 450 million euros (£390million) in this year’s Football Money League.
“At the top, we have seen Real Madrid shatter records, becoming the first club to break the three-quarters of a billion euro mark and claim a record twelfth Money League title in the process.
“Most of our top 10 are through to the last 16 of the Champions League and forecasting further revenue growth, meaning their relative performances in UEFA’s flagship competition this season could have a noticeable impact on our rankings next year.”
Looking ahead, Deloitte’s Sam Boor sounded a note of caution when he said last year’s slightly disappointing domestic TV rights auction for 2019-22 means Premier League clubs “will be unable to rely on explosive growth in broadcast distributions as a source of future growth, as has been the case in recent years”.
This, Boor believes, will put on “an even greater emphasis among these clubs on generating their own growth in the coming season, and in particular the optimisation of commercial revenue, which has been a key area for differentiating growth across most of Europe’s leading clubs in recent years”.