Deloitte: Top 20 richest football clubs of the world

26 January 2015

Real Madrid is for the tenth successive year the richest football club of the world, according to a report from accounting and consulting firm Deloitte. With eight clubs in the top 20 of richest clubs, the Premier League continues to expand its domination. Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United is the wealthiest UK-based club, while Everton can call itself the financially fastest growing club.

Every year the Sports Group of Deloitte assesses the finances of the highest earning clubs in the world. The latest report – titled ‘Football Money League 2015’ – reveals that the world’s most popular sport is increasingly seeing a gap, at least in financial terms, between the elite and the rest. In 2004, the 20th richest club of the globe, Aston Villa, had a revenue of €84 million, while the richest club (Manchester United) earned €259 million. Ten years later the financial threshold for the top-20 has risen to €144 million (Everton this year), with leader Real Madrid earning a staggering €550 million. The ‘explosion’ in revenues is mainly the result of large increases in broadcast revenue, supplemented by income from commercial merchandise.

An overview of the 20 richest football clubs of the globe:

The 20 richest football clubs of the globe

Together, these 20 clubs have an aggregate annual revenue of more than €6 billion, a barrier which they have exceeded for the first time. At the top end of the Money League, Manchester United joined Real Madrid as the only clubs to earn over €500 million. German champions Bayern Munich come in third place, with Lionel Messi’s FC Barcelona in fourth. England’s second richest club, Manchester City, has a revenue of €414 million, 25% less than its city rivals. The number 20 of the list, Everton, earns slight more than €400 million less than Real Madrid.

Clubs from the English Premier League dominate the top 20 – the number of clubs increased from six last year to eight in the 2015 edition. A view at the top 40 however makes the financial edge of English clubs more striking: the number of Premier League clubs in the top 30 has risen from 8 to 14 and all 20 Premier League clubs are now within the top 40 globally. This can according to the researchers be explained by one factor: the much larger broadcast revenue that English Premier League clubs enjoy, as well as the relative equality of its distribution.

An analysis of the growth rate of clubs shows that Everton was the financially fastest growing club last year, boosting its finances by 43%, followed by Champions League finalist Atlético de Madrid (+42%) and Italian side Napoli (+42%). Only two clubs in the top 20 saw their revenue fall – Milan-based giants AC Milan and Inter Milan.


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Champions League glory hard to buy for football’s economic elite

15 March 2019

The thrills and spills of knock-out football can still be one of the sport’s great levelling forces, with the Champions League’s second round having shown that the biggest spenders aren’t always able to buy their way to glory. While a league format broadly favours the squad depth of the beautiful game’s richest teams, half of the tournament’s wealthier teams exited in the first one-on-one elimination round.

As the Champions League burst back into life in February, following an agonising winter break, only two of the 16 teams re-launching their Champions League last-16 bid were from outside the so-called Big Five football leagues. With the exceptions of Portuguese champions FC Porto and Dutch footballing powerhouse AFC Ajax, teams from the world’s biggest spending leagues monopolised the second round. As outlined by analysis from KPMG’s Football Benchmark, the Premier League was represented by four teams, with three clubs come from La Liga and the Bundesliga respectively, while Serie A and Ligue 1 both retained two clubs.

This followed a grimly predictable group phase, which had seen the two most expensive squads progress in all but one of the eight collections of four teams. The one team to buck that trend, Ajax, had last won Europe’s premier club competition in 1995, but those halcyon days have long since faded into memory, and Ajax had failed to progress beyond the group stage in 13 years. With the second youngest squad in the tournament, what now seems to be an awakening football giant had some shocks in store for the second round too.

Group Stage values

Despite an impressive Europa League run which saw the team reach the final two years ago, Ajax had not progressed in a Champions League knockout stage tie since the 1996-97 campaign. That all changed this time, as Erik ten Hag’s men overturned a first leg deficit to trounce Real Madrid 5-3 on aggregate. Having felt hard done by in a 2-1 defeat at the Johan Cruijff ArenA, the Amsterdam club cruised to a 4-1 victory at the Santiago Bernabéu, a result which saw the tournament’s fourth most expensive squad crash out to the third cheapest remaining team.

The supremely expensive team, which had won three Champions Leagues on the trot, had crashed out in spectacular style. For many footballing purists, the end of the seemingly invincible Galacticos would have been enough to restore some of their faith in the sport – but there would soon be more schadenfreude to revel in, as a succession of Europe’s most bank-breakingly costly teams would soon join Los Blancos in their exit.

The pick of the bunch was unquestionably Paris Saint-Germain, who forfeited a 2-0 first leg advantage to somehow crash out of the Champions League. The team, who are fast becoming known as the foremost bottlers in Europe, faced a grim dissection in the French press following a 3-1 defeat by Manchester United at Le Parc de Princes. While it would be over-egging it to paint United as ‘giant killers’, the Red Devils squad is worth markedly less than the club bankrolled by Qatari oil money. PSG hold two of the most expensive players of all time in French World Cup winner Kylian Mbappe and Brazilian playboy Neymar.

Second Round values

Elsewhere, the round’s cheapest squad proved further that money is not everything, as Porto overcame Roma (the Italian club has since parted ways with manager Eusebio Di Francesco in the wake of this humbling) – while Juventus battled back to beat Atlético Madrid. The most ‘balanced’ tie of the round, there was a squad value difference of only €22 million between the two squads, in favour of the Spanish giant. With that being said, €113 million of Juve’s price-tag came from the summer acquisition of Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo’s tie-settling hat-trick went to show that money spent in the right place ultimately makes the difference.

Spending wisely

At the same time, there were also four teams which lived up to their large price-tags. Manchester City pummelled Schalke over the course of two legs, hammering the German team 7-0 in the second game. With the largest squad market value in the tournament, the Citizens showed that their spending had not merely been a frenzy provoked by having large amounts of money to throw about – a la PSG – and that every penny had in fact been used to craft one of the continent’s most well-balanced and dangerous teams, to ultimately contend for the title.

Tottenham Hotspur similarly brushed off Borussia Dortmund, while Liverpool eventually overcame Bayern Munich, to leave no German teams in the tournament. Meanwhile, Barcelona similarly did for the French contingent of the Champions League, bundling out Olympique Lyonnais 5-1.

Operating Revenues

Going forward, the humbled economic superpowers of European football will take solace from the fact that their huge operating revenues will allow them to buy up talent which has emerged in this year’s Champions League. With Real Madrid having re-installed Zinidine Zidane as Head Coach, the club has already committed itself to spending big in the summer, cashing in some €50 million of its €743 billion revenue stream from last year to sign Éder Militão from Porto – who has impressed in this year's Champions League – in the summer.

Whether the PSG project is financially sustainable in the long-term remains to be seen, meanwhile, but with a huge portion of commercial revenues including shirt-sales from the club’s array of superstars, it will likely also seek to bring in more big names in the summer. The club was reportedly in the running to sign Ajax star Frenkie de Jong, before Barcelona finally secured his services from the end of the season.

The likes of Ajax will meanwhile face an uncomfortable wait, as a range of its new crop of outstanding players inevitably attract the attentions of Europe’s top spenders. With the lowest operating revenues of any team left in Europe, the club will face an uphill struggle to hang on to the likes of teenage captain Matthijs de Ligt. However, it would not be the first time that the club has been plundered for its top talent, and what Ajax and clubs of its size can take forward is that with the right eye for lower-key recruitment, they can rebuild, and still challenge Europe’s elite.