European Union: Commercial Breaks - Football Money League 2015

Last Updated: 23 January 2015
Article by Deloitte Sports Business Group

Most Read Contributor in UK, August 2017

Welcome to the 18th edition of the Deloitte Football Money League in which we profile the highest earning clubs in the world's most popular sport. Published just eight months after the end of the 2013/14 season, the Money League is the most contemporary and reliable analysis of the clubs' relative financial performance.

There are a number of metrics, both financial and non-financial, that can be used to compare clubs including attendance, worldwide fan base, broadcast audience and on-pitch success. In the Money League we focus on clubs' ability to generate revenue from matchday (including ticket and corporate hospitality sales), broadcast rights (including distributions from participation in domestic leagues, cups and European club competitions) and commercial sources (including sponsorship, merchandising and other commercial operations), and rank them on that basis.

The big picture

This year's Money League sees another year of ups and downs in the financial pecking order of world club football. With over half of clubs in the top 20 seeing changes in their ranking and a significant number of new entrants into the top 30, the financial landscape of the world's greatest game continues to change. It is notable though that things are more stable in the top ten, with only one new entrant, six non-movers and seven of the ten perennial members of our top 20. This year's top three clubs are also the only three clubs to have been in the top ten in every edition of the Money League.

The 2013/14 season saw substantial growth for the top 20 clubs in the Money League and as predicted in last year's edition, the aggregate annual revenue of these clubs has now exceeded €6 billion for the first time. A combined total of €6.2 billion in 2013/14, represents an increase of 14% on the previous year.

Despite a number of new entrants, the financial threshold for membership of the Money League is becoming increasingly challenging, with the requirement for a place in the top 20 increasing to €144m, 20% higher than the previous year.

At the top end of the Money League, Manchester United joined Real Madrid as the only clubs to earn over €500m. First achieved last year by Los Merengues, such is the pace of growth seen at the largest clubs, it is possible that in next year's edition all of the top five Money League clubs will be generating in excess of half a billion euros for the 2014/15 season.

As the drive to compete financially to aid on-pitch competitiveness continues, the profile of clubs making up the Money League has shifted again this year. Last year we remarked on the first instance since 2005/06 that two clubs from outside the 'big five' European leagues had featured in the top 20. This year's edition has seen three new entrants into the top 20, and six new entrants into the top 30, but also a tilt back towards the dominance of the Money League by the traditional 'big five' leagues, with only two clubs from outside these leagues featuring in this year's top 30. In the last edition five clubs from outside the 'big five' featured in the top 30.

While the potential for growth in markets outside the 'core' European markets remains substantial, the pace of growth at clubs across the 'big five' leagues makes it difficult to see an increase in Money League entrants from outside these leagues in the near future unless they achieve transformational uplifts in their domestic broadcast deals. The same applies within the 'big five' leagues in terms of the battle for those outside England (even some UEFA Champions League participants) to keep pace with their English counterparts, after the latest round of significant increases in the Premier League broadcast deals.

To gain entry to the top 20, substantial broadcast revenue continues to be critical, especially that generated from participation in the UEFA Champions League. For those clubs aspiring to move further up the Money League, this year suggests that sizeable commercial deals are key to success. The top three this year have all cemented their places, in large part, through strong commercial growth and remain the only three clubs to be ever present in the Money League top ten.

As we consider the three principal revenue streams of the top 20 clubs this year it is interesting to note that, in aggregate, the amount generated from matchday (primarily ticket sales) has fallen to its lowest ever percentage. Equally, 14 of the top 20 saw the revenue they generate from matchday activities decline as a proportion of total revenue as compared with last year, with only two clubs reporting a percentage increase. Meanwhile, the percentage of revenue that the top 20 clubs generate through the more indirect means of broadcast and commercial activities has reached an all time high. In aggregate, the matchday revenue of the top 20 grew by 4% in 2013/14, compared with an overall revenue growth of 14%.

This has been a steady trend. Whereas the top 20 Money League clubs in 2004/05 generated around a third of their revenue from matchday, this has now fallen to 20%. If this trend is to continue, as we expect it to, it raises significant questions about the nature of ticket pricing and marketing of the matchday experience within the business models of the world's biggest clubs.

Only a few of the top 20 Money League clubs saw a significant increase in their average league attendance in 2013/14, compared with the previous season, and with the continued pressure on the cost of living across Europe, matchday revenue is likely to be a significant strategic question for Money League clubs in the immediate future. While they continue to break new ground in attracting record-breaking deals with international commercial partners and broadcasters, for whom the live match crowd is a crucial part of the appeal, it may be that the growth of the Money League clubs' oldest revenue stream is reaching a plateau.

Source: Deloitte analysis.

World leading

The most significant story in this year's Money League is the influx of Premier League clubs as substantial uplifts in the league's broadcast deals have translated into sizeable revenue increases at all clubs across the league, with every Premier League club reporting record revenues in 2013/14.

The number of Premier League clubs in the top 20 increased from six last year to eight in this edition. More strikingly, the number of Premier League clubs in the top 30 compared with last year has risen from eight to 14 and all 20 Premier League clubs are now within the top 40 globally. This is a remarkable testament to the much larger broadcast revenue that English Premier League clubs now enjoy, relative to the majority of their European peers, as well as the relative equality of its distribution.

A season that saw Manchester United finish in their lowest league position since the start of the Premier League era actually saw the Red Devils reclaim second spot in the Money League. Their commercial growth, underpinned by their pioneering market segmentation strategy, continues to yield record-breaking deals. If the club can regain their Champions League status for the 2015/16 season, there is a strong possibility they will also regain top spot in our Money League for that season.

Elsewhere, Manchester City showed the largest absolute increase of any top 10 club, with improved commercial deals contributing to their maintenance of sixth position. Chelsea and Arsenal sustained their seventh and eighth place rankings respectively for a second successive year, while a successful season on the pitch saw Liverpool regain a top ten place. Broadcast uplifts were responsible for Tottenham Hotspur moving up one place to thirteenth and Newcastle United and Everton moving into the top 20.

With almost half of the top 30 now made up of Premier League clubs, it is with great anticipation that we wait to see what the new round of Premier League broadcast deals, expected to be agreed in 2015, will yield. With the market expectation that another significant increase will occur, it is likely that the Money League will have a predominantly English appearance in the coming years.

Perfect ten

This year sees Real Madrid complete the "Doble Décima", retaining top spot in the Money League for the tenth successive year after becoming Champions of Europe for the tenth time. With revenue of almost €550m, continued commercial success and the imminent commencement of a substantial stadium redevelopment, it looks very likely that Los Merengues will continue to enjoy top spot in next year's edition. Real Madrid became the first club ever to pass the €200m threshold for broadcast revenue, demonstrating the strength of their deals but also emphasising the polarity within Spanish football. For example, Atlético de Madrid, in a season that saw them win La Liga and reach the UEFA Champions League final, still generated less than half the broadcast revenue of Real Madrid.

Barcelona finished 2013/14 without major silverware for the first time since 2007/08, and off the pitch the Catalan club fell to their lowest Money League position since 2004/05. With revenue growth having stalled for a couple of years, the next round of major commercial deals will be crucial to Barça's efforts to remain competitive at the very top of the Money League.

Atlético's wonderful season, that saw them break the duopoly of Spanish football for the first time in ten years, by winning La Liga, sees them rise five places to fifteenth. Maintaining and capitalising on their on-pitch success to deliver significantly enhanced commercial deals will be critical if they are to rise further up the Money League.

Powering ahead

The economic power of Bayern Munich continues to be evident in this year's Money League, with the Bavarian club generating 60% of revenue from commercial sources. Having always been one of the strongest Money League clubs in this area, Bayern have now complemented their intrinsic domestic appeal with continental success on the pitch, helping them broaden the club's commercial horizons. The 2013/14 season saw tangible evidence of this, with the club opening an office in New York. In the near term there is a possibility that Bayern may move up to second spot in next year's Money League, last held by them in 1998/99.

Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 complete this year's Bundesliga contingent in the top 20, with commercial sources primarily responsible for the revenue growth at both clubs.

Losing ground

Despite again having four representatives in the Money League top 20, the Italian clubs continue to be unable to match the growth of many of their Money League peers.

Juventus' continued domestic league success and participation in European competition, coupled with their successful exploitation of their own stadium, has helped them narrowly maintain a place in the Money League top ten, albeit with modest revenue growth in 2013/14.

Another season of mixed on-pitch fortunes saw AC Milan drop out of the Money League top ten for the first time, with the absence of European football in the 2014/15 season likely to further hinder their chances of regaining a top ten position in the near future. Napoli returned to the top 20, due largely to a successful Champions League campaign, placing them just ahead of Internazionale, who fell two places to 17th, their lowest ever ranking.

This year's ranking further emphasises the relative decline of Italian clubs. In our 2001 edition Italy had five clubs in the top 10 and seven in the top 20. Central to this remains the issue of stadium development and ownership, with the matchday revenue for all of the Italian Money League clubs except Juventus, in the bottom quartile of this year's top 20. Unless there is significant and immediate investment in both stadia facilities and improving the matchday experience, it is unlikely – despite the lesser relative direct importance of matchday revenue noted earlier – that this pattern of decline, relative to their European peers, will stop.

Solo run

Paris Saint-Germain remain the only French club in the top 20 this year and have further consolidated their position in the top five. Having last year recorded the highest ever single revenue source seen in the Money League, their commercial revenues have again shown remarkable growth, to over €300m. Even without any broadcast or matchday income, this commercial revenue alone would place the Parisian club firmly in the Money League top ten, a feat only Bayern Munich could match.

While the development of Paris Saint-Germain both on and off the pitch continues apace, there is currently limited evidence of other French clubs challenging for a place in the top 20. Only one other French club features in the top 30 (Olympique de Marseille) and with comparatively limited improvements in the value of the latest round of domestic broadcast deals, French clubs will continue to struggle to keep up with their biggest European competitors.

Best of the rest

The only representative in this year's top 20 from outside the 'big five' is Turkey's Galatasaray, whose substantial matchday revenue increase helped the Istanbul club maintain a top 20 position for a third year in a row.

Keeping a balance

In the context of continued revenue increases at the vast majority of Money League clubs, 2013/14 was also the first season of the full implementation of UEFA's Financial Fair Play measures. With these rules, and their consequences, now an accepted reality discussed in boot rooms, bars and boardrooms across European football, we are starting to see signs that the continued revenue increases at the top of the game may finally be capable of being translated into a more sustainable balance between costs and revenues, without a loss of on-pitch competitiveness.

Team effort

We provide profiles of each of the top 20 clubs in this edition. The Deloitte Football Money League was compiled by Dan Jones, Austin Houlihan, Timothy Bridge, Alex Bosshardt, Matthew Green, Chris Hanson, James Savage, Andy Shaffer, Chris Stenson and Alexander Thorpe. Our thanks go to those who have helped assist us, inside and outside the Deloitte international network. We hope you enjoy this edition.

Commercial breaks - Football Money League 2015

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