By Daniel Hunter
Before the weekend, Bayern München had already secured the Bundesliga. Then Saturday's dramatic win over Borussia Dortmund sealed the Bavarians' status not just as Germany's top club, but as the Champions of Europe. Now, as the results of the latest BrandFinance Football 50 show, they have conquered the World.
The annual study, from leading brand valuation agency Brand Finance, ranks the World's biggest football clubs by their brand value. This year Bayern München has overtaken Manchester United to become the World's most valuable football club brand. Impressive financials and a growing international reputation for quality football has seen Bayern's brand value hit $860m, demoting United to second place.
Despite United's legions of international fans and reclamation of the Premier League title, a truncated European campaign and an uncertain future following Sir Alex Ferguson's departure sees the club’s brand value fall 2%. United’s loss of the top spot may prove temporary but to reclaim the title David Moyes must rapidly prove he can sustain his predecessor’s success.
Meanwhile, defeat on Saturday didn't take the shine off Borussia Dortmund's stellar year. Jurgen Klopp's team achieved 14% brand value growth to $260m which sees the club enter the top ten for the first time at the expense of close rivals Schalke 04.
Fussball may be coming home, but the Bundesliga still has a way to go before it is can mount a real challenge to the global allure of Premier League. The combined brand value for Bundesliga teams in the BrandFinance Football 50 is $1.9bn, a long way behind the $3.1bn total for the English teams featured in the study.
Spanish, Portuguese and Italian football again sees tough economic conditions hamper growth. It was not such a ‘special one’ for Real Madrid, but the club still managed to increase its brand value to $621m. Rival El Classico club Barcelona saw $8m cut from its brand value, a disappointing year by its high standards.
Juventus FC and SSC Napoli both continued their return to form at the expense of FC Internazionale Milano who take another dip after a poor season. AC Milan also struggled as the Milan Contingent grapples with aging stadia, falling attendances and crowd trouble.
Elsewhere Turkish and Brazilian brands made great strides thanks to their booming economies and passionate domestic fanbases. Galatasaray AŞ are the highest ranking Turkish team valued at $116m, while SC Corinthians Paulista ($103m) take the honour of highest ranking non-European club.
Average brand growth across the top 50 is a healthy 7%. Attendances have remained solid, with many top teams filling their stadiums week-in week-out coupled with long season ticket waiting lists.
There are now 10 different kit suppliers to the top 50 clubs in this hotly contested and increasingly lucrative marketplace. Adidas lead the pack with 18 supplier contracts while Nike follows with 14 deals. Both however are feeling the pressure of new market entrants Warrior and Under Armour.
Brand Finance’s Head of Sports Valuation, Dave Chattaway said: “Bayern Munich is still very much a story of domestic dominance, however its continued presence in the Champions league has provided the club with access to a global audience. The challenge now for all Bundesliga clubs and the league itself, is to see if they can export their domestic brand strength into global opportunities.”
Brand Finance CEO David Haigh commented: “The commercial transformation of the English game, which has created hugely successful global brands, had been seen as the model to emulate. However the escalation of player wages, poor financial management and alienation of grass roots fans has left many people jaded.
"In contrast the cheap tickets, high attendances, democratic ownership structure and financial prudence of the Bundesliga now looks like an attractive alternative, particularly now it is delivering world-beating, fluid football rather than the more workmanlike style German teams had been known for. Just as British politicians and business journalists have long been calling for our economy to emulate the German Mittelstand, now sports commentators are wondering whether we can learn from the Bundesliga.”
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