BAYERN MUNICH may have just clinched their ninth consecutive Bundesliga title, but they have also been named as the strongest football club brand in the world by Brand Finance, leapfrogging no fewer than four clubs in securing the top spot.
Bayern also has the number one enterprise value at € 3.6 billion, coming ahead of Real Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester United in the € 3 bn-plus category. Bayern’s position is not only a reflection of their on-pitch success in 2020, but also endorses the club’s structure and its place as a standard bearer for the so-called 50+1 ownership structure of German football.
Bayern were not one of the 12 European Super League (ESL) rebel clubs and, ironically, they are the only club in the top 10 to see their brand value increase in a difficult year for elite football. Generally, the ESL project is seen as having a negative effect on club brands, Brand Finance estimated that € 600 million was wiped away from brand values – but it could have been far worse.
Hugo Hensley, head of Sports at Brand Finance, commented: “The origin and demise of the European Super League is a story of branding – the 12 clubs considered their brands too strong and attractive to be sanctioned by other associations, and above the football pyramid that validates their success. However, the communication, promotion and positioning of the project were poorly executed, fuelling a backlash from all stakeholders, leading to the dissolution of the group, and resulting in painful brand damage.”
Although the damage to brands has been limited, there could be more to come. The aborted attempt to divide football has left a sour taste which could lead to lower matchday spend and commercial revenue in the long run, but the litmus test will come when football crowds return to stadiums. “For the ESL founding clubs, the prize seemed obvious, but this ignored the huge risk that fans would not follow, and neither would the money. There was outrage in the home markets from fans and leagues alike, the effects of which will be felt for months to come,” said Richard Haigh of Brand Finance.
In terms of brand value, Real Madrid retained their top position despite losing 10% of their value. They did increase the gap with their fierce rivals Barcelona, however, which had closed to just € 6 million in 2019 but has increased to € 10 million in 2020. Manchester United remain in third spot after losing 14% of their brand value and are now just € 12 million in front of their neighbours, Manchester City.
Despite the fact that six Premier League clubs were part of the ESL dozen, the English league has the leading presence in Brand Finance’s Football 50 – 17 clubs from the Premier are among the most valuable brands. The combined value of the Premier clubs amounts to € 7.5 billion, averaging € 394 million. The fastest growing brands were Aston Villa and Leeds United, who grew by 28% and 26% respectively.
The fatest growing overall, though, was Russia’s Zenit St. Petersburg, whose brand value increased by 35% to € 135 million. Zenit, Russia’s biggest club, recently won their third consecutive Russian Premier League title.
Buro Happold provided rankings on stadiums and for the second year running, Tottenham Hotspur’s new arena was placed at number one.
Bayern Munich have long been a club that is admired, replicated and envied across the European football landscape. The 50+1 supporter shareholding model kept them out of the ESL fiasco and bodes well for the future in terms of future sponsorship and commercial activity. The 2021-22 season will see them attempt to win the Bundesliga for a remarkable 10th successive year – the question is, who can stop them?.
To see Brand Finance’s Football 50 2021, click here