Which is the most expensive club football team in the world?
In January 2017, an 11-year-old dominance in the world of football ended – although not one related to trophies, home records or goals scored. Manchester United replaced Real Madrid at the top of Deloitte's Football Money League, thus reclaiming the spot they had relinquished since 2003-04.
United's 2015-16 revenue of €689 million (£515.3 million) has been the all-time highest figure recorded for a football team. With the amount of money being invested in football greater than ever, the returns are exponential as well and we can expect these numbers to get higher with each passing year.
As per the document released by Deloitte, "In the Money League we focus on clubs' ability to generate revenue from matchday (including ticket and corporate hospitality sales), broadcast rights(including distributions from participation in domestic leagues, cups and European club competitions) and commercial sources (including sponsorship, merchandising, stadium tours and other commercial operations), and rank them on that basis."
Here's a breakdown of how the top 3 fared in each of these individual categories:
Matchday Revenue – €137.5 million (£102.8 million)
Broadcasting Revenue – €187.7 million (£140.4 million)
Commercial Revenue – €363.8 million (£272.1 million)
Matchday Revenue – €121.4 million (£90.8 million)
Broadcasting Revenue – €202.7 million (£151.6 million)
Commercial Revenue – €296.1 million (£221.4 million)
Matchday Revenue – €129 million (£96.5 million)
Broadcasting Revenue – €227.7 million (£170.3 million)
Commercial Revenue – €263.4 million (£197 million)
Analysing Manchester United's dominance
As can be seen from the figures, Manchester United enjoy nominally higher income from matchday revenues (to be expected in the Premier League, where the prices of the tickets and percentage of sellout are higher on average), despite Old Trafford having a smaller capacity than Camp Nou and Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid and Barcelona boast higher shares of Broadcasting Revenue, since the norms for pooling and sharing the Broadcasting Revenue between the league and the teams are different for the Premier League and La Liga.
Where Manchester United truly stand out, however, is the amount of commercial revenue they generate. Despite facing setbacks over recent years compared to the glory years under Ferguson, Manchester United have not suffered any loss of popularity – and the brand remains unmatched through the world of football.
As Deloitte's Money League document rightly puts it, "Phenomenal growth, particularly in commercial revenue, in recent years has outweighed any impact of a decline in on-pitch performance."
Of the numerous commercial deals that form part of those revenues, two stand out in particular – deals with Adidas and Chevrolet. In July 2014, United reached a 10-year agreement with Adidas for £750 million beginning with the 2015-16 season – in the process becoming the biggest kit deal in sport.
That is in addition to the deal that was signed with Chevrolet which kicked in from the 2014-15 season, which banks United around £53 million a season.
Forbes list of most valuable football clubs
Another prestigious index for the richest clubs in the world is the annual list compiled by Forbes. With the rankings for 2017 yet to be released, Real Madrid still retain the top spot as per the rankings on 1 May 2016, with a revenue of $3.65 billion.
Barcelona and Manchester United are close behind, with revenues of $3.56 and $3.32 billion respectively. The three-year $7.9 billion agreement between EPL with Sky Sports and BT Sport, which started from the 2016-17 season, and the lucrative $130 million a year arrangement with Adidas, are together expected to hand United the top spot in the Forbes rankings for 2017.
Looking around Europe
Following UK's decision to leave the European Union, the Pound has weakened significantly relative to the Euro – meaning we might see a shift in power yet again next season. With the newly imposed arrangement of collective selling of Broadcast Rights in La Liga, more Spanish clubs are expected to fight it out to be in the top 20 of the Deloitte Money League.
Currently, the top 20 consists of eight English clubs(United, City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham., West Ham, Leicester), four Italian clubs (Juventus,Roma, AC Milan, Inter Milan), three Spanish clubs(Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico), three German clubs (Bayern, Borussia, Schalke), a French club (PSG) and a Russian club (Zenit).
Both Milan giants having been acquired by Chinese investors, Italy would be hoping for a resurgence over the next few years, both financially and on the pitch.
Manchester United's replacement of Real Madrid at the top of Deloitte Football Money League has also coincided with them having overtaken the Spanish giants in terms of the most expensive football transfer of all time – with Pogba's £89.3 million transfer eclipsing the previously held record of Bale's £85.3 million transfer.
It is perhaps quite fitting that the richest club in the world has made the most expensive transfer of all time.
With the ever increasing popularity of football in Asia and United States, let us hope more clubs from these regions break into the European stronghold and establish themselves among the richest teams in the world.