By Daniel Hunter
The combined revenues of the world’s 20 highest earning football clubs have defied European economic woes by growing 3% on the previous year, according to the latest Football Money League from Deloitte, the business advisory firm.
They have achieved double the rate of growth of the economies of the countries represented in the Money League, which grew on average by just 1.7% during the course of 2010 and by 1.3% in 2011.
The 20 clubs generated €4.4 billion in revenue, during the 2010/11 season and now represent over a quarter of the total revenues of the European football market. Nine of the top 20 clubs recorded double-digit growth in the year.
“Continued growth of the top 20 clubs during 2010/11 emphasises the strength of football’s top clubs, especially in these tough economic times," Dan Jones, Partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, commented.
"Whilst revenue growth has slowed from 8% in 2009/10 to 3% in 2010/11, their large and loyal supporter bases, ability to drive strong broadcast audiences and continuing attraction to corporate partners has made them relatively resilient to the economic downturn.”
For the fourth successive year, the clubs comprising the top six places in the Money League — Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Chelsea — have remained the same, with no movement in their respective positions for the last three years.
Real Madrid is now just one year short of equalling Manchester United’s dominance in the top position during the first eight years of the Money League. They are being chased hard by rivals Barcelona, whose 13% growth in 2010/11 meant revenue surpassed €450m for the first time. Manchester United’s failure to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League in 2011/12 will likely result in the gulf between the club and its Spanish opponents stretching to over €100m.
“Barca’s shirt deal with the Qatar Foundation, will further boost the club’s revenue in 2011/12," Jones commented.
"Nonetheless, Real Madrid will be confident it can remain at the top of the Money League next year. The two clubs’ on-pitch performance, particularly in this season’s Champions League, will have a big influence on the final outcome.”
Once again, the Money League top 20 comprises clubs from the ‘big five’ European leagues, six of which come from the English Premier League. A further five Premier League clubs were just outside the top 20 for revenues in the 2010/11 season (Aston Villa, Newcastle United, Everton, West Ham United and Sunderland).
After its first season without Champions League football since 2003/04, Liverpool slipped another place down the Money League, dropping to ninth position. Despite reporting strong growth from its commercial revenues, and a new six-year kit deal with Warrior Sports from 2012/13, Liverpool needs a return to European football to help secure its top 10 position in the Money League. This is under threat from English Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur (11th) and Manchester City (12th), among others.
“Spurs’ recently received planning consent for a new stadium development, coupled with a continuation of their recent on-pitch form, could secure a Money League top 10 position for the club on a frequent basis," Alan Switzer, a director in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said.
"A glance across North London to Arsenal leaves little doubt of the scale and impact of the increased matchday revenue opportunities that arise from a modern stadium development.”
Tottenham’s debut in the Champions League, where it reached the quarter-final stages, gave the club a chance to gain 10th spot in this year’s Money League. However, it was leapfrogged by Schalke 04 — this year’s biggest climbers — which jumped six places, pushing Italian giants Juventus out of the top 10 in the process.
Schalke’s dramatic rise up the Money League came as a result of a Champions League campaign that saw the club reach the semi-finals of the competition. However, a disappointing 14th place finish in the 2010/11 Bundesliga season and failure to qualify for Champions League football in 2011/12 will likely see a drop back down next year.
Despite impressive revenue growth, Manchester City slipped one place in the Money League.
“The club’s heavy squad investment secured Champions League football for 2011/12. When combined with the ground breaking 10-year partnership with Etihad, this will provide substantial growth across all three revenue sources and will see City break into the top 10 in the Money League next year,” Switzer explained.
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