Manchester United are back on top of the Deloitte Football Money League for the first time since 2005 but the pound’s fall against the euro means they may struggle to beat Barcelona and Real Madrid again next year.
Now in its 20th year, the Deloitte study ranks the world’s richest football teams by turnover during the 2015-16 season and this year’s top three of United, Barcelona and Real is the same as the first edition in 1997.
Real Madrid who had topped the list for 11 years, were beaten to second place by their La Liga rivals by just €100,000.
Manchester United, on the other hand, have surged ahead of the pack, becoming the first football team to earn more than £500 million in a season — the club’s total revenue of £515m is almost £50m more than the amount Barcelona and Real generated.
The report’s author Tim Bridge told PA Sport: “You can’t really look past Manchester United returning to the top spot and it is because of their ability to make commercial deals that are way ahead of their peers.”
Citing United’s record-breaking kit and sponsorship deals with Adidas and Chevrolet, Bridge said Europe’s other super clubs are now using the Old Trafford outfit as a benchmark in their own negotiations with commercial partners.
United’s 2015-16 earnings were also boosted by a return to the Champions League, which meant more broadcasting and match day revenue.
But they were not the only Manchester Club to enjoy off-field success as City climbed to fifth in the money table. Thanks to their growing commercial strength and run to the Champions League semifinals; they earned £393m.
One spot higher than City in fourth are Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, who bring in double what closest domestic rival Borussia Dortmund (11th) earn. The next three places were filled by Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, non-movers, but all setting new club records for revenue.
Spurs are the next best-placed English outfit in the 12th position on £209m, with West Ham and Premier League champions Leicester, new entrants in the table, at 18th and 20th, respectively.
Juventus heads the list of four Italian teams, in 10th place on €224.5m, followed by AS Roma (15th at €218.2m), AC Milan (16th at €214.7m) and Inter Milan (19th at €179.2m).
Leicester and West Ham sandwiched the once-mighty Inter Milan.
And looking further afield, the only possible non-European candidates for the top 20 in 2030 are most likely to come from China.