In January 2019, Deloitte released its latest Football Money League report – a communique informing the world just how well the biggest clubs in professional football are doing regarding revenue streams.
The report is based on Deloitte’s findings regarding the period of the 2017/18 season and states that “the Money League remains the most contemporary and reliable independent analysis of the clubs’ relative financial performance.”
There was change at the top with LaLiga’s Real Madrid and FC Barcelona taking first and second place respectively. Real were, in fact, the first club to actually take in more than €700m in a single year. Los Blancos earned just over €750m. In doing so, Real ousted Manchester United from the number-one spot.
On-pitch success in the major competitions will have a huge bearing on the Money League and this is certainly the case with Real Madrid. They won their third consecutive Champions League title in 2017/18, their fourth in five seasons, beating Liverpool 3-1 in Kiev on May 26th. The club enjoyed a revenue increase of €75m more than what they took in during the 2016/17 campaign.
Barcelona earned €690m, giving them second position in the Money League. They earned over €60m more than third-placed Manchester United, making it the second-widest gap ever between second and third since the Money League started.
Barcelona increased their revenue by over €27m with the start of a new four-year shirt sponsorship deal with Rakuten – a Japanese e-commerce company. The Catalan club also won La Liga in 2017/18, their third title in four seasons.
Manchester United’s commercial growth and success is no secret as the club has become known as one of the biggest football clubs in the world over the last quarter of a century. United had been top of the Money League for the last two years but in 2017/18 they experienced only a 2% revenue increase, the lowest increase in the top five.
The Old Trafford club fell to third place due to this levelling off in its revenue streams. The club didn’t take in as much as you would normally expect with their Champions League (CL) participation, mainly because they qualified as the previous season’s Europa League winners. Their path to the CL entitled them to a smaller share of revenue from the competition than normal.
Bayern Munich and Manchester City maintained their positions of fourth and fifth from last season. Paris Saint Germain jumped one to sixth thanks to further domestic success and a co-branding initiative with Air Jordan which could reap huge financial rewards for the club in the immediate future.
Liverpool moved up two places to seventh in the Money League. Chelsea held onto eight-place while Arsenal dropped three places to ninth.
The Gunners’ drop off was, of course, primarily down to their failure to qualify for the CL for the first time since 1997/98. The north London club earned almost €50m less than they had taken in during 2016/17.
Notably, Arsenal’s decline means there was only a £10m gap in earnings between them and their north London rivals, Spurs, compared to 2016/17’s gap of approximately £120m.
Spurs broke into the top ten of the Money League for only the second time ever. Mauricio Pochettino’s side replaced Serie A’s Juventus in tenth place. The Italian champion’s exit from the top ten means there is now no Italian club higher than 11th, Juve’s position. There are, however, four Serie A representatives between 11th and 20th.
AS Roma actually jumped the highest in the whole Money League, moving up nine places to 15th thanks largely to their excellent CL run as far as the semi-finals.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top 20 of the Money League is made up entirely of European clubs from the continent’s ‘big five’ leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France). Only three clubs from outside this parameter appear in the top 30 of Deloitte’s publication.
The Premier League has six clubs in the top ten – a new record number of representatives within the top ten from one country.
As mentioned above, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool came seventh and the Merseyside club achieved the largest revenue increase (£90m) in the top ten. Liverpool finished fourth in the Premier League but enjoyed a CL journey to the final in Kiev before Real Madrid ended the dream.
There were 13 Premier League clubs in the top 30, making England the most-represented nation in the Money League.
Two newcomers to the top 30 were Besiktas of Turkey and the Premier League’s Brighton and Hove Albion.
While nothing compares to success on the pitch, Deloitte’s Money League is a hugely relevant report when the correlation between commercial accomplishment and a club’s trophy haul is more apparent than ever.
The more money a club has the better players and managers they can attract. To use an old cliché, money talks. Deloitte’s Money League speaks volumes if you’re prepared to listen.