The 30 European football clubs with the highest revenue

22 March 2022 4 min. read
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Almost half of Deloitte’s Football Money League comes from the English Premier League. While huge television revenues and the gradual return of matchday income saw many English clubs make the list after being absent before, the study also saw reigning Premier League champions Manchester City top the table for the first time.

Each year, Deloitte publishes a list of the European football clubs with the highest revenues. While fans might still prefer to see their club top a different table altogether, it is a ranking that has gradually increased in importance among supporters desperate to find bragging rights over their rivals by any means necessary.

Indeed, for Manchester United – recently described by The Guardian’s Jonathan Liew as ‘an also-ran, a makeweight’ – finances have become the only front on which they have enjoyed success. The Red Devils last laid their hands on silverware in 2017, claiming the Europa League. In the five trophyless years later, the only area the club has enjoyed number one status at home, or abroad, is via the Deloitte Football Money League.

The 30 European football clubs with the highest revenue

Despite repeatedly misfiring on the pitch – while rivals Liverpool and Manchester City have claimed domestic, continental and global titles – United have still clung on to the status of the English club with the largest revenue. Since the club’s last topping of the table in 2018, however, the club has been steadily losing ground on this front too. And not just to anyone – the club’s dreaded ‘noisy neighbours.’

For the first time in the club’s history, Manchester City has topped Deloitte’s rich-list. During the 2020-21 season, City claimed a Premier League title and finished runners-up in the Champions League – the last piece of major silverware still to illude the Cityzens – and this on-pitch success was mirrored in the club’s income, which boomed to £539.4 million (€644.9 million). City’s annual figure has grown by nearly 45 times, since the first year of the Money League covering the 1996-97 season.

In contrast, United failed to overcome Villareal in the Europa League final, and revenue fell to £466.7 million (€558 million) from £485.43 million. This saw their city rivals leapfrog them, while United fell to fifth, the lowest position the club has occupied on the list.

On-pitch fortunes don’t always detract from revenues though. Even though Real Madrid laboured to second in La Liga, Los Blancos still raked in €640.7 million to finish second – ahead ofBayern Munich’s €611.4 million, despite having cruised to another Bundesliga title. Barcelona meanwhile are experiencing a protracted financial crisis – but even so, the club ranks fourth on Deloitte’s list, due to its focus purely on revenues.

Paris Saint-Germain (€556.2 million), Liverpool (€550.4 million), Chelsea (€493.1 million), Juventus (€433.5 million) and Tottenham Hotspur (€406.2 million) completed the top 10.

English dominance

The fact a team which scraped into the Conference League (where it would duly be humbled in the group phase) belies a broader financial success among English clubs. Spurs were not the only mid-table outfit to still bring in huge revenues, according to Deloitte – and thanks to massive television rights deals, and the return of matchday revenues as the pandemic recedes, Premier League clubs make up more than half of the top 20 in the Football Money League.

Following successful domestic campaigns, last season’s FA Cup winners Leicester City (€255.5 million) and Europa League hopefuls West Ham United (€221.5 million) re-entered the Money League – with Leicester’s broadcast revenue alone higher than the total revenue of Aston Villa (€207.3 million) in 20th position. Wolverhampton Wanderers (€219.2 million) meanwhile pushed into the Money League top 20 for the first time, hitting 17th.

In the top 30, three more English clubs make up the numbers. Enjoying their long-awaited return to the top-flight, Leeds United (€192.7) and mid-table stalwarts Southampton (€177.5 million) both brought in sizeable revenues. At the same time, Newcastle United managed to sit 28th, with revenues of €170.1 million – more than Lazio or AC Milan.

With this coming even before the club’s controversial takeover by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, fans increasingly believe the club is well-positioned to start challenging for on-pitch glory in the near-future.

However, it should be noted that the study does not paint an entirely healthy picture of the beautiful game’s top table. In total, the clubs in the Money League generated €8.2 billion in revenues – an increase of less than one% on the pandemic-stricken 2019-20 figures, and more than €1 billion lower than in 2018-19.

As elite football still struggles to recover from the lockdown months, Deloitte noted, “Money League clubs have missed out on well over €2 billion of revenue over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons as a result of Covid-19.”