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  • Combined revenue for top 20 Money League clubs in the 2016/17 season grew to $8.6bn, a new record;
  • Manchester United retain top spot, the tenth time they have held the title of the highest revenue-generating club in the world, with a revenue of $737m;
  • United’s UEFA Europa League victory was critical to them topping the Money League, with the differentiating impact of participation and success in UEFA competitions more crucial than ever across the top 20;
  • Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League and domestic title winning season saw their revenue grow by over $47m but ultimately this was only sufficient for second place in the Money League, missing out on top spot by the narrowest ever margin ($1.8m);
  • FC Barcelona completes the top three, with Bayern Munich and Manchester City making up the top five;
  • A record ten English clubs feature in the top 20, generating a total revenue of $4.1bn, helped by the fact that 2016/17 was the first season of the current record Premier League broadcast rights deal;
  • Three clubs from Germany, three from Spain, three from Italy and one from France feature in the top 20. AC Milan falls out of the Football Money League top 20 for the first time;
  • The 21st edition of the Deloitte Football Money League ranks the top 20 clubs by revenue in world football.

The 20 highest earning football clubs in the world generated $8.6bn of revenue in 2016/17, according to the 21st edition of the Football Money League from Deloitte, the business advisory firm.

Manchester United, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona complete the top three of the Money League and it now takes revenue of over $200m to be guaranteed a place in the top 20, almost double the amount required in the 2010 edition. Unsurprisingly, broadcast revenue is now the largest individual revenue stream for the Money League clubs, making up 45% of total revenue.

United hold on to Money League top spot, but only just…

2018 sees Manchester United retain first place, by the smallest ever margin ($1.8m) in the history of the Money League, from Real Madrid. United’s victory over Ajax in last season’s UEFA Europa League final was the critical factor as they received €44.5m in payments from UEFA.  This is over four times more than Atlético de Madrid received in 2011/12 for winning the same competition. The concerted efforts by UEFA in recent years to make the Europa League more rewarding has benefitted United in this year’s Money League.

Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, comments:  “European football continues to flourish financially, with over half a billion Dollars of revenue growth in 2016/17 for the top 20 Money League clubs. At the top, we’ve seen the closest ever battle for the top spot, with Manchester United pipping Real Madrid to retain their title of the highest revenue generating club in the world. United generated $737m in 2016/17.

“United’s ability to retain first position is all the more impressive against the backdrop of the weakened Pound against the Euro, and with both Real Madrid and FC Barcelona forecasting further revenue growth in 2017/18, the battle at the top will likely come down to on-pitch performance again next year. With all three clubs through to the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League, it may be as simple as the club that goes furthest in the competition will have the best chance of topping the Money League next year.”

Premier League continues to dominate

The English Premier League has ten teams in the top 20 this year, the most ever from one country, with Southampton (18th) making their debut Money League appearance, Manchester City consolidating their place in the top five and Leicester City rising to 14th, from 20th last year. Whilst all Premier League clubs benefited from the improved broadcast deals, it was Southampton and Leicester’s performance in European competitions which saw them gain their highest ever respective positions. Southampton’s broadcast revenue alone is greater than the total revenue of the 26th ranked team in this year’s Money League (Crystal Palace, $178.7m).

Elsewhere, Arsenal climb above Paris Saint-Germain into sixth and Tottenham Hotspur rise one place to eleventh. Chelsea and Liverpool remain in eighth and ninth respectively with West Ham United in 17th and Everton in 20th. Outside the top 20, there are four more English clubs ranked between 21 and 30, with AFC Bournemouth in 28th place. The Cherries’ revenue of $173.5m in 2016/17 is $172.1m higher than their equivalent figure in the first ever Money League in 1996/97.

Tim Bridge, senior manager in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, comments: “The Deloitte Football Money League has a particularly English feel this year and with the first year of record Premier League broadcast deals and UEFA competition performance driving broadcast revenue growth of almost $400m for those in the top 20, it doesn’t come as a surprise.

“As the Premier League is currently in the middle of its tender for the next rights cycle from 2019/20, the results of this will be crucial to determining the long term composition of the Money League.“

Elsewhere in Europe

The top five is completed by Bayern Munich, in fourth position, with Paris Saint-Germain slipping to seventh, the second consecutive year that they have dropped a place. Whilst PSG are again the only French club in the Money League, Olympique Lyonnais are resurgent, ranking just outside the top 20 after benefiting from increased revenue from their move to a new stadium and a successful run to the Semi-final of the Europa League. AC Milan miss out on the top 20 for the first time but city rivals Internazionale move up four places to 15th after significant commercial revenue growth, following a takeover by the Chinese company, Suning. Performance in UEFA competitions was key to Napoli taking 19th place and AS Roma dropping out of the top 20 for only the third time since we commenced our Money League analysis 21 years ago.

Bridge adds: “The Money League remains the most reliable and respected method of comparing the financial performance of football clubs and over the coming years it will be interesting to see how its composition might change. With the revised qualification structure for the Champions League, it is likely that we’ll see some re-ordering of the clubs in years to come.”