PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN may be waiting for their first UEFA Champions League trophy, but they are arguably the most powerful football club in the world, according to the third edition of the Soccerex Football Finance 100.

Once again, Game of the People was involved in producing editorial for the report, which uses a methodology based on player values, cash, debt, tangible assets and the wealth of club owners.

The 2020 report shows that squad valuations of the top 100 have grown by 24.5%, tangible assets are up by 12.6% and ownership wealth has risen by 21.2% to € 1.1 trillion. At the same time, debt among the top 100 has fallen by 8%.

PSG have overtaken Manchester City, the club that topped the FF100 in 2018 and 2019. This was largely due to improved financial management, higher levels of cash and a reduction of debt.

PSG’s rise to first place comes at a time when big-time football has become more polarised, characterised by clubs increasing their financial strength due to the support of very wealthy investors. Increasingly, clubs seek-out investors that can elevate them to a new level. “Whereas clubs with billionaire backing were the exception a decade ago, the modern football is increasingly drawn to oil magnates, speculators and huge corporations,” said Soccerex.

FF100 by region and country

Europe 73 England 23
Spain 11
Italy 11
Germany 10
France 8
Russia 5
Holland 2
Portugal 2
Ukraine 1
North America 20 USA 15
Mexico 3
Canada 2
Asia 5 China 3
Japan 2
South America 2 Argentina 2

PSG, Manchester City and Chelsea all fall into this bracket, but of this triumvirate, only Chelsea have won the UEFA Champions League. “It is often overlooked that clubs with huge resources are part of a band that is similarly wealthy, either through investor capital or through self-perpetuating heritage,” said Soccerex.

Europe dominates the FF100, with 73% of clubs coming from the region. England contributes 23 clubs, with five in the top 10. Soccerex points out, however, that the top clubs are no longer the sole property of the countries where they are located. The top 30 of the FF100 evidences the global nature of ownership, with just under 50% of clubs in the hands of non-European owners.

The Premier League enjoys relatively high player valuations, but they also have high debt levels. The two clubs with the highest debts are Tottenham (€ 898 million) and Manchester United (€ 800 million), although clubs in Spain and Italy have significant debts. Increased debt contributes to Manchester United’s surprisingly low place of 16th, also due to a big drop in their squad value and lower cash.

    FF100 Score
1 Paris Saint-German 5.318
2 Manchester City 5.197
3 Bayern Munich 3.888
4 Tottenham 3.441
5 Real Madrid 3.336
6 Arsenal 3.150
7 Chelsea 2.893
8 Liverpool 2.616
9 Juventus 2.195
10 Borussia Dortmund 2.154

Across Europe’s top leagues, the football institutions that dominate domestic football are also the richest: Bayern Munich in Germany, Juventus in Italy, Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain and PSG in France.

The Soccerex Football Finance 100 provides few surprises, but it does paint an interesting picture of the business dynamics of global football. It is very obvious that the biggest clubs are putting more clear blue water between themselves and their rivals, which is not necessarily a good thing.

Soccerex cautioned: “Few would disagree on the importance of ensuring football’s eco-system remains healthy and that the game’s spirit and authenticity are both preserved in the face of ever increasing commercialism. Football clubs are invariably linked to the identity of cities, towns and even villages, and therefore, they bring pleasure to many people who see “their club” as an essential part of the community.”

The ongoing corporatisation of football has helped drive its popularity and media saturation, but it also represents a threat to many clubs, casting them into the role of also-rans. The stronger the big names become, the more pressure there will be to create elitist competitions that could result in a very fragmented industry. “Whatever happens has to handled sensitively and pragmatically, and must be in the interests of all clubs, not just the richest,” insisted Soccerex.

While the past decade has seen unprecedented growth in the game, with clubs feasting on spiralling revenues from broadcasting, the future looks very uncertain for football as players like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo prepare to leave the stage. “It is an industry in a state of flux,” said Soccerex. “But when has it truly been any different? And isn’t that part of the sport’s attraction – constant evolution?”

To see Soccerex’s Football Finance 100, click here

@GameofthePeople

Photo: PA