MANCHESTER United’s recent malaise on the pitch has had an impact on the club’s position in football’s financial pecking order, with Real Madrid and Barcelona overtaking them to claim the top two places in Deloitte’s Football Money League for 2019.
United slip to third after a second successive year in which the club’s revenues declined. They are hardly in poor street, however, as revenues totalled € 666 million and the club also has long-term lucrative deals with Adidas and Chevrolet. But as well as seeing the La Liga giants leapfrog them, the differential between United and City in Manchester appears to be closing.
Real Madrid became the first club worldwide to break the € 700 million barrier, earning total revenues of € 750.9 million. Their domestic rivals Barcelona will surely be reaching that landmark soon as revenues for 2017-18 totalled € 690.4 million.
Real’s bank balance was swelled by another successful season on the pitch, but they also generated the highest revenues from commercial activity (€ 356.2 million) and TV (€ 251.3 – jointly with Liverpool). They were also the second highest in matchday income (€ 143.4 million) after Barcelona.
Deloitte’s numbers show the rich just keep getting richer – the combined revenues of the top 20 amounted to a record € 8.3 billion, an increase of € 400 million and almost a billion higher than 2015-16. Once again, the big five leagues dominate, with nine of the top 20 clubs from the Premier League. For the first time since Deloitte started their analysis of football’s finances, Italian clubs are absent from the top 10. Juventus dropped to 11th, to be replaced by Tottenham Hotspur.
The importance of broadcasting money is highlighted by the revenue mix. Across the study, TV money accounts for 43% of revenues, while commercial activity contributes 40% and matchday just 17%. The Premier League is especially dependent on broadcasting – Tottenham (53%), Liverpool (49%) and Arsenal (47%) all have very high reliance on cash from TV, while Manchester United, with a broader, more diverse revenue mix, is much lower (35%). Clubs like Real Madrid (34%), Barcelona (32%) and Bayern Munich (28%), have lower percentages, largely because of their very high attendances. Just 24% of Paris Saint-Germain’s revenues, due to some lucrative commercial transactions, come from broadcasting.
From a matchday perspective, just six clubs generated more than € 100 million in revenues, Others, such as Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City, trail behind the big guns. Manchester City’s income from games totalled only € 63.9 million, which is almost half the amount earned by neighbours United.
However, the gap between United and City is tightening across all revenue streams. In 2016, United generated € 164 million more than City, but this gulf has narrowed to € 98 million. United’s matchday income aside, the club’s commercial prowess is significantly greater than City’s, although the current era of success at the Etihad Stadium will surely continue to work away at the difference. Even more notable is the parity developing in north London, where Arsenal’s financial advantages have slowly been eroded by stagnation in the latter Wenger years and the rise of Tottenham’s young team. This, of course, will also be affected by the opening of Tottenham’s new stadium.
The Deloitte Football Money League findings confirm that within the top 20 clubs there are huge imbalances. Consider that Real Madrid’s income totals € 750.9 million while 20thplaced West Ham generated € 197.9 million. With the top eight all earning more than half a billion in revenues, a European Super League, in financial terms, has already been created.