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Real Madrid and Barcelona Top Ranking Of The World’s Most Valuable Football Teams

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Football teams have been scoring much richer television and sponsorship deals.

As a result, the 20 most valuable soccer teams in the world are worth an average of $1.16 billion, 11% more than last year and 84% higher than five years ago. The performance would have been even more dramatic if not for the increase in the value of the U.S. dollar versus the Euro.

In Euros, the value of the top 20 teams more than doubled during the past five years and are up 34% during the past year, to 1.08 billion. (Note: the composition of teams in the top 20 list was slightly different each year.)


Within the the top 20 I have culled what I refer to as the Super Six–Barcelona, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United,Real Madrid–the only teams that rank in the top 10 in four crucial areas: social media following, matchday revenue, broadcasting revenue and commercial revenue. These teams have created a large, global following and have figured out how to monetize it.


Real Madrid is the most valuable team, worth $3.26 billion, mainly due to $746 million in revenue, the most of any sports team in the world. This is the 12th time we have ranked soccer teams and Real Madrid has been the most valuable  team the past three years. Over that span, Los Blancos have averaged annual operating income of $171 million, second among soccer teams only to Manchester United’s $173 million (the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys averaged operating income of $241 million to lead all teams). Led by super striker Cristiano Ronaldo, who holds the all-time goal record in UEFA club competition, Real Madrid earned $154 million from Champions League play for the three-year period through 2014, the most of any team.



Barcelona, worth $3.16 billion, landed in the number two spot for the second straight year. Barcelona tied La Liga rival Real Madrid for the highest league television distribution in 2014, $190 million. Barcelona’s value also reflects the below market value of its Qatar Airways shirt and Nike kit deals, which currently yield a combined annual average of $80 million a season. The former is up after the 2015-16 season, the latter two years later. With superstars Lionel Messi and Neymar leading the way on the pitch, Barcelona should be able to double the value of its uniform deals. In addition, Barcelona are going to spend over $700 million renovating their stadium and grounds, which should significantly boost revenue.

Manchester United is the third most valuable team, worth $3.1 billion. No team on the planet has figured out how to make money from its brand like the Red Devils. In 2014,  Manchester United signed a record-shattering, 10-year dual global sponsorship and licensing deal with Adidas that begins with the 2015-16 season and guarantees the team at least an average of $110 million a year. Two years earlier, Manchester United signed a seven-year shirt deal with Chevrolet that started paying the team an average of $75 a year with the 2014-15 season. These are the most lucrative uniform deals in soccer.

Two other members of the Super Six–Manchester City and Chelsea–rose the most in value over the past year. The value of the Sky Blues increased 59%, to $1.38 billion. Manchester City, which captured the Premier League title in 2014, has been expanding its brand in the U.S. with its 80% ownership of New York City FC, which joined Major League Soccer this season. The MLS team is 20% owned by the New York Yankees parent company and play their home games at Yankee Stadium. Chelsea’s value went up 58% to $1.37 billion. Two years ago, Chelsea signed a 10-year, $450 million kit deal with Adidas. The timing could not have been better for the German sports apparel maker as The Blues finished atop the Premier League in 2015.

Noticeably absent from the Super Six is German power Bayern Munich, which has won the Bundesliga three consecutive years and captured the Champions League in 2013. Bayern’s commercial revenue of $396 million is second only to Paris Saint-Germain’s $445 million. But Die Bayern’s broadcasting revenue was just $146 million, 11th among our group of 20. Why? The value of the Budesliga’s television deals are a distant third behind the Premier League and Italy’s Serie A.

Eight of the top 20 most valuable teams are from the Premier League. English teams have been helped by the rising value of the British Pound relative to the Euro and U.S. dollar. Plus, earlier this year the Premier League secured a new domestic television deal that will pay an average of $2.7 billion annually for three years beginning with the 2016-17 season, by far more than any other soccer league, and 7o% more than the current agreement.  When the Premier League’s international rights are finalized by the end of this year, it is expected that total media rights starting with the 2016-17 season will surpass $4 billion a year, which would be second in sports to the NFL’s $6.7 billion.

There are four Italian teams–Juventus ($837 million), AC Milan ($775 million), Inter Milan ($439 million), Napoli ($353 million) on our top 20 list, but none ranks higher than ninth. The once great brand of Serie A has been diminishedover the past decade from scandals, antiquated stadiums, bloody balance sheets and a decline in talent on the pitch. Yet, given their huge fan bases, now might be the perfect time to buy one of these under-achieving teams.

Some housecleaning. A tip of the hat to Deloitte’s Money League report, which I used to cull the revenue for the 20 most valuable teams, and to The Swiss Ramble, the website I used for the operating income and debt of several teams. And I’d be remiss if I did not mention three colleagues–Agustino Fontevecchia, Chris Smith, Bobby McMahon–with whom I spent much time debating and discussing the financial minutia of soccer.


© 2015 Forbes | This article was written by Mike Ozanian first appeared on Forbes on 6 May 2015.

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