Football: Man City top Deloitte Money League for first time, with 11 EPL sides in top 20

Manchester City fans at a packed Etihad Stadium. Their Abu Dhabi owners have invested billions in the club. PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES VIA REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Manchester City have topped Deloitte's Football Money League for the first time after emerging from the coronavirus crisis in a stronger position than their rivals.

The English Premier League champions, bankrolled by their Abu Dhabi owners, are only the fourth club to top the rankings after Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United.

City's revenue of €644.9 million (S$965.5 million) in the 2020-21 season - up 17 per cent - propelled them from sixth position to the top on the list of the 20 highest revenue-generating clubs in world football.

However, some of City's commercial deals - which account for nearly half of revenue - are a source of controversy, with a number key partners such as shirt and stadium sponsor Etihad having links to the club's owners.

The club were €4.2 million ahead of Spanish giants Real Madrid, with German champions Bayern Munich next, followed by Barcelona and Manchester United.

A total of 11 English clubs were in the top 20, with Wolves making their first appearance as the Premier League continued to flex its financial muscle.

Average revenue of the 20 clubs on the list was €409 million - a marginal increase over the 2019-20 season thanks to broadcast deferrals due to Covid-19 disruption, but a 12 per cent decrease from the 2018-19 season because of the absence of fans.

The clubs in the Money League have missed out on more than €2 billion of revenue over the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons as a result of the pandemic, the Deloitte report said.

Premier League clubs were more insulated due to the much larger television rights deals they enjoy compared with their competitors in the other top European leagues and the gap is likely to widen.

"Premier League broadcast rights values are set to pull further away from the other 'big five' European leagues from the 2022-23 season, with the rollover of existing domestic arrangements on the same terms and the total value of international rights reportedly set to increase by 30 per cent and exceed the value of domestic rights for the first time," said Dan Jones, head of Deloitte's sports business group.

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