Real Madrid has returned to top Deloitte’s annual Football Money League, with Spanish LaLiga rival Barcelona serving to demote Manchester United to third in the ranking as six clubs broke the €100m (£86.7m/$113.4m) barrier for matchday revenue.

The Sports Business Group of the professional services company collated its ranking by using total revenue extracted from the annual financial statements of the company or group in respect of each club, or other direct sources, for the 2017-18 season.

The world’s top 20 revenue-generating football clubs include four from the North West of England – Manchester United (3rd), Manchester City (5th), Liverpool (7th) and Everton (17th). Having generated record revenue of €750.9m, Real has reclaimed first place in the Money League.

Despite a return to UEFA Champions League football, United (€666m) drops to third place with the slowest rate of revenue growth (2%) of any club in the top five. Arch rival Manchester City (€568.4m) has consolidated its place in the top five, ranking fifth for a third consecutive year.

Liverpool (€513.7m) ranks seventh, a rise of two places, after its 2017-18 Champions League final appearance contributed to significant revenue growth from the previous year’s mark of €424.2m. Deloitte noted that Liverpool’s broadcast revenue alone, which increased significantly to €251.3m as a result of amounts received from UEFA, would be sufficient for a place in the top 15 of this year’s Money League.

Merseyside rival Everton (€212.9m) climbs three places to 17th this year, the club’s best ever position in the Money League. Everton is currently planning a new stadium and Deloitte said the return of European football had a positive impact on matchday and broadcast revenue, whilst a record shirt sponsorship arrangement with betting firm SportPesa helped provide commercial growth to take the club to a new record level of revenue overall.

Other significant movement in the top 20 sees Arsenal (€439.2m) and West Ham United (€197.9m) fall three places apiece to ninth and 20th, respectively. New entries into the top 20 come in the shape of AS Roma (15th/€250m), AC Milan (18th/€207.7m) and Newcastle United (19th/€201.5m).

Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: “European football remains a bull market, with annual revenue growth of almost €450m in this year’s Football Money League.”

Sam Boor, senior manager in the Sports Business Group, added: “Despite Manchester United’s two year reign at the top of the Money League coming to an end, the financial performance of North West clubs continues to impress. The region has the same number of clubs in the top 20 as the best performing country outside England (Italy: Juventus, Inter Milan, AS Roma and AC Milan).

“With Liverpool and Manchester City currently occupying positions towards the top of the Premier League, and three of the four North-West Money League clubs through to the Round of 16 of this season’s UEFA Champions League, there is the potential for even further revenue growth next year.”

Casting a closer eye at the performance of the top five relative to their matchday income, Real saw total revenues rise from €674.6m to €750.9m. Matchday revenue accounted for €143.4m of this sum or 19% of the total, as the Santiago Bernabéu, which is set to undergo a major renovation, pulled in an average attendance of 66,337 for LaLiga games.

Deloitte said Real is the first club to exceed revenue of €750m following growth of more than €75m, in no small part thanks to the club’s third successive Champions League title. This translated into continued commercial improvement, with a €54.8m rise in commercial revenue fuelling overall growth, including sales of merchandising, sponsorship revenue and exploitation of pre-season tours. Real is now said to have the highest commercial revenue of any football club globally.

Barcelona is also planning its own redevelopment plans for the Camp Nou and saw total revenue rise from €648.3m to €690.4m. Some 21% of this figure (€144.8m) came from matchday revenue as the Camp Nou pulled in an average 70,872 fans for league games.

Commercial revenue increased by €27.7m following the start of a new four-year shirt sponsorship deal with Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten and improved exploitation of pre-season friendlies. Winning La Liga resulted in improved broadcast revenue and, despite a drop in average league attendance, Deloitte reported matchday revenue also increased following growth in revenue from the sale of tickets released by the club’s members and the Spanish Super Cup fixture played against Real Madrid.

After two consecutive years at the top of the Money League, United falls two places to third as total revenue fell from €676.3m to €666m. Matchday revenue accounted for 18% or €119.5m of this total as Old Trafford attracted average crowds of 75,102 for Premier League games.

Deloitte noted that despite a Champions League return in 2017-18, UEFA distributions were broadly similar to the amount received from winning the Europa League in the previous season, as qualification via UEFA’s second tier competition resulted in a lower share of the lucrative market pool distributions relative to other English clubs participating in the Champions League.

Despite becoming only the fourth club to surpass €600m revenue, Bayern Munich has been unable to climb the Money League and occupies fourth place for the third consecutive year. Bayern’s total revenue of €629.2m rose from €587.8m last year. Matchday revenue of €103.8m (17%) contributed to this figure as an average of 75,354 fans watched Bundesliga games at the Allianz Arena.

The club achieved revenue growth of 7%, which was largely due to an uplift in broadcast distributions of €30m, following the start of the Bundesliga’s improved four-year domestic TV rights deal and a €15.7m increase in UEFA distributions compared to the previous season, after the club progressed to the Champions League semi-finals in 2017-18.

Manchester City retains fifth spot for the third year running with revenue growth of 11% (€568.4m versus €527.7m). However, matchday revenue of only €63.9m (11%) was garnered as the Etihad Stadium pulled in average attendances of 54,054 for league games. Deloitte noted that whilst matchday revenue improved marginally, the club’s total is the lowest of any club in the top-10 and remains an area of potential growth for City.

Other clubs to break the €100m matchday revenue mark for 2017-18 were sixth-placed Paris Saint-Germain (€100.6m) and Arsenal (€111.6m). For further analysis of the Money League, check out The Stadium Business next week.

Image: Real Madrid