Manchester United has jumped back up football’s rich list despite its struggles on the pitch thanks to a glut of commercial deals and the huge rise in value of Premier League broadcast deals.
The Old Trafford leapfrogged both Bayern Munich and Barcelona FC to claim second spot in this year’s Deloitte Football Money League just a year after it was muscled out of the top three earners.
United’s figure of €518m meant that it was the only club alongside leaders Real Madrid to surpass €500 in revenue for the 2013/14 season, though experts expect the top five clubs to move past the market next year.
Despite missing out on Champions League earnings and enduring its worst domestic season in two decades, the club is in rude financial health. England’s most successful team domestically benefitted from the tussle for broadcast rights between BT and Sky, which saw them gain from a record £3bn three year deal. Additionally, the club lined its commercial coffers with smaller, regional deals that have seen it tighten its grip in emerging markets such as China and Africa.
United posted record annual revenue of £433.2m for the year 2013/14, making the club the highest earning in the world. Commercial revenues were key to the spike, which increased by 24.1 per cent year-over-year, and this is set to rise due to its Adidas deal that will generate £75m per year for the next 10 years from next season.
The club’s success underlines the Premier League’s financial might. Manchester City (6), Chelsea (7), Arsenal (8) and Liverpool (9) all joined United in the top 10 rankings and every Premier League team made it into the top 40. Another commercial windfall for those clubs is expected when deals for the 2016/15 season are agreed this year.
Dan Jones, partner in the sports business group at Deloitte, said the growth experienced within the top 20 has been "remarkable".
Commercial and broadcast revenues are now “more important than ever to clubs” to enable them to compete financially and put the best talent on the pitch, he added. “This has led to further dominance from the ‘big five’ European leagues this year, with just Galatasaray making it in from outside of those leagues”.
Austin Houlihan, senior manager at Deloitte, said: “Despite a poor on-pitch season in 2013/14, United’s commercial strategy of securing global and regional partners is delivering substantial growth. Commercial revenue has grown 83 per cent in the last three years. Their absence this season from European competition will be felt in next year’s Money League position, but if they can return to the Champions League in 2015/16 there is a strong possibility they could be top in two years’ time.
“The fact that all the clubs in the Premier League are in the top 40 is testament to the huge appeal of the league globally and also the equality of the distributions the clubs enjoy relative to their European counterparts. Additionally, the Premier League is currently negotiating for the next cycle of media rights and further uplifts are anticipated.”
Real Madrid topped the rankings for the tenth year running, propelled by a revenue spike of 26.6m to £459.5m.