MANCHESTER UNITED owns the world’s number one football brand despite their fall from the top of the Premier League in the past few years, according to Brand Finance.
In the latest Football Top 50, United are one of two clubs with a brand value of over USD 1bn. Real Madrid, unsurprisingly, are the other USD 1bn-plus club.
Brand Finance’s top 50 reflects similar finance-oriented lists and also the relative strength of the English Premier League. England (and Wales) contributes 18 of the 50, with Germany 11, Spain seven, Italy five, France four, the Netherlands and Turkey two apiece and Portugal one.
While United’s brand is calculated to have the top financial value, it comes in fourth in terms of its power. Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich fill the top three places. In some ways, this is the real test of the brand recognition of a football club. One measure of this is the appearance of football shirts. In the UK, you can see Liverpool and Manchester United shirts around the country more than, for example, shirts from Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal. United have been a “universal” club since the late 1950s and Liverpool’s reputation during the mid-1970s to the late-1980s earned them nationwide popularity which soon spread beyond Britain. It will be interesting to see how Jose Mourinho, United’s new manager, will impact their brand in the coming season.
In continental Europe, clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Juventus seem more popular than any English club. But you can go to Africa and Asia and see many European clubs shirts on the street, including Inter and Milan from Italy in addition to the aforementioned teams. Today, which many are calling the age of “super club”, Asia is seen as a priority growth market for the top clubs. Manchester United continues to the most popular club in the region.
The global nature of the game is underlined by the main sponsors for the top brands. Interestingly, only two of the top 10 – Bayern Munich with Deutsche Telekom and Liverpool with Standard Chartered – are sponsored by companies from their own countries. Five of the top 10 are sponsored by airlines, with Emirates backing Paris St. Germain, Arsenal and Real Madrid.
Only three of the top 10 are given a AAA+ rating by Brand Finance: Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. All three of these clubs have long-standing growth trajectories that have been built upon heritage, critical mass and commercial acumen. Their financial base has not been accelerated or enhanced by recent inflated investment. This explains why these clubs have been rated higher than the rapidly-grown beneficiaries of overseas investment – Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris St. Germain. All three have been ranked AAA- (two notches below the top three) and one below Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Juventus, who are all AAA-rated.
The composition of the Brand Finance top 50 changes by around 10% annually. In 2016, new entrants include Hertha Berlin and Mainz from Germany, Bilbao and Villareal from Spain and Watford from the Premier. Leicester City’s shock title win earned them a big jump from 42 to 16.
Is this now the “super” club?
|Brand Finance||KPMG European Elite||Deloitte Money League||Average league pos. over five years||European Performance 2015-16|
|Manchester United||1||=1||3||3.8||UCL Group|
|Real Madrid||2||=1||1||2||UCL Winners|
|Manchester City||4||6||6||2||UCL SF|
|Bayern Munich||5||4||5||1.2||UCL SF|
|Arsenal||6||5||7||3.2||UCL Last 16|
|Chelsea||8||7||8||4.6||UCL Last 16|
|Tottenham||10||12||12||4.6||UEL Last 16|
|Juventus||11||9||10||1||UCL Last 16|