Real top football's rich list, United down to third

LONDON • European champions Real Madrid displaced Manchester United as the world's highest-earning football club after the Premier League side's underperformance on the pitch in recent seasons ate into their dominance off it.

United slumped to third place, below both Real and Barcelona based on revenue for the 2017-18 season, financial services firm Deloitte said in its annual Football Money League yesterday.

The Red Devils have been the wealthiest club for two of the past three years and eight times in the last two decades.

Clubs in the Premier League - which has the highest broadcast revenue - took six of the top-10 spots, but LaLiga's two biggest teams prevailed thanks to their Champions League prowess and supremacy at home.

The changing of the guard in football's financial list mirrors the contrasting on-field fortunes of United and Real of late. Santiago Solari's men have won the Champions League for the last three seasons while, in the same period, United have failed to get past the last 16.

Their annual revenue was also hit by a slump in the British pound, growing only 1.5 per cent to £590 million (S$1 billion). Real, on the other hand, surged 11 per cent to €751 million (S$1.1 billion).

A spokesman for United said the club were "not too concerned" about financial league tables from year to year as the team remain a top global sports brand by any measure.

Part of their confidence lies in the fact that the Premier League still dominates the money pile.

There are a further five English top-flight teams in the top 10, including Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal, with even relegation-threatened Newcastle making the top-20 cut despite going trophyless since 1969.

Tottenham, who are waiting to move into a 62,000-capacity stadium, re-entered the top 10 for the first time since the 2006-07 term.

Italian Serie A champions Juventus, meanwhile, dropped out of the top 10 for the first time since the 2010-11 season despite signing former Real talisman Cristiano Ronaldo in the close season.

Weaker broadcast revenue in Italy relative to other big European leagues means Juventus have to do better than their rivals in the Champions League to bridge the gap.

Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, who are backed by wealthy Middle East owners, are in fifth and sixth place.

Both are, however, facing claims they have breached the Financial Fair Play regulations, but City and PSG have denied any wrongdoing.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2019, with the headline 'Real top football's rich list, United down to third'. Print Edition | Subscribe