While football is a sport, it is also a business drawing in billions in revenue. Here we take a look at the highest revenue-generating clubs in world football.

Deloitte have released their 23rd edition of the Deloitte Football Money League (DFML), ranking the highest revenue generating clubs in world football and there may be one or two surprises on the list.

The report focuses on clubs’ ability to generate revenue from matchday (including ticket and corporate hospitality sales) and broadcast rights (including distributions from participation in domestic leagues, cups and UEFA club competitions), as well as commercial sources (e.g. sponsorship, merchandising, stadium tours and other commercial operations).

Broadcast remains the largest individual revenue stream, comprising 44 per cent of total revenue. The ability to attract substantial commercial interest is a distinguishing factor between those at the top (i.e. those traditionally competing in the UEFA Champions League on a regular basis) and at the bottom of the Money League.

It is notable that while an extended period of absence from UEFA club competitions, in particular the Champions League, can significantly impact revenue generation, the top ranked clubs are less reliant on broadcast revenue than smaller clubs.

Here are the top ten clubs to make the Deloitte Football Money League for 2020:

  1. Juventus – €459.7 million (up one place)

The Italian giants retain their position as Italy’s wealthiest club having generated €459.7 million over the last year. The Turin side have won Serie A the past eight years and are on course to make it nine in a row. They also made it to the Champions League quarter-final last year which played a big factor in generating so much. However, perhaps most interestingly, the acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo may be the most important factor why Juventus sit in tenth position. Ronaldo’s move from Madrid “increased Juventus’ commercial appeal”, according to the report, and generated huge merchandise sales for the club.

  1. Chelsea – €513.1 million (down one place)

Chelsea dropped one place on last year’s position, which is largely due to missing out on the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League. While it’s not been confirmed, the transfer ban imposed by FIFA was possibly felt in merchandise sales, with new player shirts being popular among fans around the world. After winning the Europa League in May, the London side returned to the Champions League this season, meaning they may rise a place or two in 2021.

  1. Tottenham – €521.1 million (up two places)

Tottenham continued their meteoric financial rise to post an annual profit of €521.1m in the 2018/19 season. Tottenham have announced consecutive revenue increases of at least €68m in three seasons now. In 2015/16, as Spurs’ improbable title chase began, the club’s revenue sat at a mere €280m. At the conclusion of last season, it has nearly doubled to €521m. That increase of €241m is the biggest increase in real or relative terms of any club in the world since 2016. Reaching last year’s Champions League final was crucial to Tottenham’s climb up the Money League.

  1. Liverpool – €604.7 million

Retaining their position in seventh place on the list, Liverpool become the third English club to break the €600 million barrier. A fantastic 2018/18 campaign led to Jürgen Klopp’s side being crowned Champions League winners while domestically, they just missed out on their first Premier League title in 29 years in a blistering race with Manchester City. The Reds have just signed a new partnership with Nike, replacing current supplier New Balance, in a deal believed to be worth over €100 million per year, which is likely to see the club climb up the list next year.

  1. Manchester City – €610.6 million (down one place)

Manchester United’s noisy neighbours enjoyed a very successful 2018/19 campaign, capturing all three trophies on offer in England, the first to ever do so. This success on the pitch helped the club achieve a record revenue stream of €610.6 million. However, despite a seven per cent increase on last year’s total, Pep Guardiola’s side actually fell one place, but this is largely because clubs around them had massive surges.

  1. Paris Saint Germain – €635.9 million (up one place)

Paris Saint-Germain, who continue to dominate Ligue 1 but struggle when it comes to the latter stages of the Champions League, move up one place to fifth after seeing a rise of €94 million in their earnings. With players like Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, PGS’s commercial revenue made up a huge chunk of the French club’s revenue.

  1. Bayern Munich – €660.1 million

Like Juventus and PSG, Bayern Munich retained their position as the wealthiest football club in their respective country, with the German side staying in fourth place on the list. The Bavarians recorded a total revenue of €660.1m in 2019, a number likely impacted by the early exit in the Champions League to Liverpool. Commercial revenue made up the bulk of the club’s income — €356.5m, the third highest in the world behind Barcelona and PSG.

  1. Manchester United €711.5 million

While matters on the pitch might not be going to plan for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær and the Manchester United owners, the 20-time Premier League champions remain the powerhouse of English football. The club remain in third place for the second consecutive year, with revenue increasing by six per cent, with a return to the UEFA Champions League playing an important role in that growth. However, by failing to qualify for the Champions League in 2019/20, Manchester United now find themselves in a hazardous position are set to miss out of qualifying for next season’s Champions League (as things stand) which could see the club drop several places on the Money League list in 2021.

  1. Real Madrid – €757.3 million (down one place)

After topping the 2019 Money League, Real Madrid dropped to second place this year, falling behind the arch enemy, Barcelona. It was a difficult year on and off the pitch for the Spanish giants, finishing third in La Liga, being knocked out of the Champions League to Ajax in the round of 16 and sacking two of their managers before Zinedine Zidane returned to the helm. However, Real Madrid remain a global powerhouse in football and sit comfortably in second place on the list.

  1. Barcelona – €840.8 million (up one place)

Barcelona have reached the top of the Money League for the first time and also become the first club to break the 800m euros barrier, knocking rivals Real Madrid down to second place. The Catalan giants revenue increase can largely be attributed to the club’s change in approach to operations, with the decision to bring merchandising and licensing activities in-house a primary factor. The Spanish side also won La Liga and made it to the Champions League semi-final last season. It also helps when you have a player like Lionel Messi, who sells the most football shirts in the world.

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 17 January, 2020

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