Football continues to be top among the most lucrative sports to invest. Around the world, investors are spending billions to buy clubs and shove the ratings of such clubs, and in return make a fortune out of such moves. The era of community owned clubs that operate like goodwill or entertainment has been overtaken by the need for such clubs to have a solid financial muscle. Further, the commercial push by the richest football club in the world and sports in general has attracted billionaires into the world of sports.
There is no doubt that football is a lucrative business to invest. This prestige comes with the names you can attract and media attention that follows such names. You can also put in place an infrastructure that drains revenue into the team. There are clubs whose fate has been transformed by money both domestically and internationally. This is just a reminder that money will determine whether you succeed or fail.
Source of wealth for football clubs
Before looking at the richest clubs, it would be wise to look at the sources of revenue for football clubs. Since all clubs have an opportunity to earn mind boggling revenue, one would say that financial muscle is determined by how efficiently the clubs maximize these revenue streams. Revenue for top richest football clubs can be classified into three main categories.
- Broadcast rights
- Match day
This constitutes the gate revenue or gate receipts which is a traditional source that is dependent on fun base, football passion and marketing. It does not make a lot of difference for Forbes richest football clubs. However, there will be a significant difference if a club is playing fewer and less lucrative matches. For instance, if a club is just entered into the domestic league, the funds are limited to 38 matches for most leagues. For this revenue to grow, the club must be top flight to play in more tournaments. It must also make its way to finals to increase the chances of participating in more games.
Each league has a unique way of handling broadcast rights. For instance, English Premier League is considered the club with the fairest broadcast rights revenue distribution regime. There is equitable distribution with little or no regard for the position of the club. Though there are proposed changes that would see 35% distributed based on last season’s finishing position, the change would be still favor the richest clubs. It is different in a league like La Liga where clubs have a big say in their broadcast negotiations. This allows the big clubs to earn more from broadcast rights than the smaller clubs.
This is the largest source of revenue for clubs. It captures revenue coming from sponsorships and merchandise sales. This revenue comes from stadium sponsors, shirts, shoes and other elements of a club. Naturally, the big clubs attract more attention from sponsors because they offer an opportunity for exposure. In fact, global brands compete to become the shirt sponsors, home sponsors, shoe suppliers, etc for clubs. Naturally, clubs that have more games will receive more sponsors. This leaves a club to negotiate a kit for home games, away games and even games in different competitions.
Sale of merchandise is an important element of revenue generation. With fans spread across the world, there is high demand for their merchandise. This also spreads the popularity of the club globally. The aggressiveness of a club will determine how much commercial revenue it earns. Endorsements come from all corners of the world without regulation on how much a club can take in commercial revenue. It all depends on your standing nationally and internationally.
Biggest expenditures for Football Clubs
Most clubs spend their money on wages. The wages go to players and staff employed at the club. However, players take the lion’s share of wages. There are very few clubs with a lower wage bill compared to the revenue turnover. UEFA has put the healthy wage bill to turnover ratio at 40%-60%. Football club expenses grow as the stature of such a club grows. With more prominent and skilled players, you have to spend more. If you are traveling a lot because of matches, your expenditure will also increase. This is why negotiations for wages are so important when buying a player. If personal terms are not agreed appropriately, the deal will not go through.
Other expenses for football clubs include surfacing debts, buying players and building their infrastructure. This is why it is so important for a club to generate enough revenue to offset its expenditure. Some clubs will do everything possible to attract the best talent at the lowest price. However, this is a tricky balancing act because top players attract a lot of attention which is a factor in revenue generation.
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Here is a look at the top 5 World’s richest football clubs in the world according to Deloitte.
5. Manchester City – €527m
Manchester City it is among the best football clubs in the world but it has been on a slow rise since it was acquired by Sheikh Mansour in 2009 for slightly quarter a billion shillings. This has given the club the financial muscle it requires to compete with big clubs for trophies domestically and in the European scene. The club has managed to win the Premier League three times in 2012, 2014 and 2018. This has added a lot of fortune to the club and shoved its profile. It has also finished as runners-up in 2013 and 2015. They have also been challenging for continental glory with mixed success. The high profile players that have landed at the Etihad Stadium have also increased the attractiveness of the Man City brand. Their fans have been consistent in filling the stadium, giving then revenue of around €60m. Commercial revenue is at €230m while €236m comes from the new broadcasting deal by the Premier League. Valued at €527m and growing, this is one of the fast rising stars to watch.
4. Bayern Munich- €587m
This Bundesliga outfit has remained in the list of top ten richest clubs for a decade. Like fellow German clubs, it has posted a drop in revenue for the year 2017. It posts the largest commercial revenue for a football club in the world at €343m. This is attributed to their ability to attract long term sponsorship. There is little the Bundesliga can show for broadcast rights. This has seen clubs lag behind and slowly plumed down the list of wealthy clubs. Even match day revenue has gone down despite the club having an impressive attendance average of 75,000 fans for every game. Their dominance of 6 consecutive league wins and the high profile players will keep the club in the spotlight for a while. However, they have to diversify revenue streams to remain competitive. The club also needs to welcome more and high profile foreign players to become a more competitive brand.
3. FC Barcelona- €648m
Barcelona has been a constant in the list of richest football clubs in the world for years. Their success domestically and in continental showpieces has made the club one of the most loved brands in the world. Barcelona has attracted some of the most competitive players in football. Brands around the world also want to be associated with the club and have therefore poured money into the Catalan club. In fact, it was the richest club in the world in 2016. Their revenue for 2017 stagnated at €296m with the centralized broadcast rights deal adding a further €214m to their basket.
Recent Barcelona news indicate that the club has paid attention to hospitality which has led to a bulge in match day revenue by a whopping €16.9m. These segmented increases in revenue have added to a total of €28.1m addition which represents an impressive 5% growth. Their match day attendance still remains impressive, attractive an average passionate crowd of 78,678 fans. A lot of attention has also come from their star players who are cause revenue increase through sale of merchandise. Barcelona continues to shine domestically and in the continent. Having won the local league 7 times in the last ten years, this remains one of the most formidable teams in the world today. Growing revenue is also expected to increase their net worth even higher. Their dominance in Europe is another contributor to their growing revenue.
2. Real Madrid- €678M
The most successful club in European football has continued to remain dominant in revenue for a decade now. Real Madrid has always challenge rivals Barcelona domestically and in Europe. The club has managed a first with a Champions league double in 2016 and 2017 and is headed for a third consecutive win in 2018. The growth in profile is synonymous to their growing revenues. A win in Champions League in 2018 against Liverpool will be a definite boost in their revenue.
Los Blancos added €301m from commercial deals, €234m from broadcast and €136m from matchday to have one of the most impressive revenue books in 2018. In total, their revenue has grown by €54.5m in 2017. Interesting, the journey to becoming the richest club in the world was deliberate. The president between 2000-2006, Florentino Perez set out to make Real Madrid the richest club in the world. In the last ten years, they have either been number one or two. It appears that the structures laid by Perez are paying off.
The profile of players heading to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium is also responsible for increased commercial interest in the club over the years. The club has had the most expensive players for years including Zinadine Zidane, Christiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and such other high profile players who have caught the attention of the world for years. Impressive Real Madrid resultssince the inception of La Liga have ensured that the club, alongside Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, are not relegated. Such consistency makes the brand bankable and attractive to top players. Their fortunes will reach a new height when they win the Champions League for a third straight year in 2018. This is unprecedented and will definitely attract impressive fortunes.
1. Manchester United- €679m
The gap between the richest and second richest club is a historic less than €2m. This gap has never been this narrow. Their absence from the champions league appeared like it would affect their revenue in the 2016-2017 year. However, they redeemed themselves with the Europa League win. This is the second year that Manchester United is topping the list. As one of the most successful brands in Europe, the club has retained an impressive trend in revenue. Though there has been a drop in match day and commercial revenue, broadcast revenue took over to result in a correction. Eventually, the revenue only dropped by €12.7m.
Manchester United Transfer news are some of the most awaited at the end of the season. Jose Mourinho is outright about the players he want at Old Trafford and those he would like to offload. Fellaini is likely on his way out since he appears to have declined a new contract or the coach is no longer interested in his skills. Antony Martial is also being considered for possible sale to Bundesliga. Pogba could also be on his way out for failing to impress despite his record signing.
Manchester United remains at a very competitive position at the end of the league. They are assured of finishing position two in 2017-18 year. They are also facing Chelsea on 19th at Wembley stadium for the FA Cup Final. These are strong indications that the brand remains strong and is expected to rake in revenue in the years to come.
The list of the richest football clubs in terms of net worth would read otherwise but the names remains almost consistent. This list changes from one year to the other depending on victories in the field and the commercial or negotiating power of executives. Revenue is a huge determinant of quality of players heading to a club. This translates into incredible wealth as brands and broadcasters want to have a piece of the action. Stay with us for the latest updates of the wealthiest clubs from time to time.