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Barcelona tops Deloitte Money League as top 20 generate €9.3bn in revenues

Lionel Messi (L) and Luis Suarez (R) are among the players to have helped FC Barcelona to the top (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

Spanish league champion FC Barcelona has topped the Deloitte Football Money League for the 2018-19 season, with total revenues of €840.8m (£741.1m/$935.9m), becoming the third team ever to top the rankings and the first to break the €800m mark. 

In total, the top 20 teams in the world – all of which are based in Europe – generated combined revenues of €9.3bn (£8.2bn/$10.3bn), an increase of 11 per cent on the €8.3bn figure from the previous year.

Barcelona was second behind its Spanish rival Real Madrid in 2017-18, with the two swapping places this year, marking a second consecutive year of the Spanish giants occupying the top two spots. Barcelona also enjoyed bigger growth than anyone in the top 20, adding €150.4m, 22 per cent, to its 2017-18 turnover.

Manchester United, the only other team to have topped the Money League in its 23-year history, remains in third place with revenues of €711.5m.

However, with the club having downgraded its revenue guidance for the current season to £560-580m, it is “at risk of losing its position as the Premier League’s highest revenue generating club for the first time in Money League history”, says the report. It suggests that domestic champion Manchester City and European champion Liverpool are both well-placed to leapfrog the Red Devils. 

Manchester City (€610.6m) fell one place in 2018-19 to sixth, with French champions Paris Saint-Germain (€635m) moving above them into the top five and closing the gap on Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich (€660.1m), who finished fourth in the Money League for the fourth consecutive season.

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Liverpool (€604.7m) remained in seventh place, though victory in the Champions League and a runner-up finish in the Premier League last season sparked record revenue growth of 17 per cent, the second-highest growth in the top 20 (after Barcelona).

Growing inequality 

Barcelona’s revenues for the season were over four times those of Napoli (€207.4m), the 20th-placed club and one of just two new entries into the league, highlighting the growing disparity even between the world’s richest football teams.

Barcelona’s commercial revenues alone, for instance, at €383.5m, are greater than the total revenues of Borussia Dortmund (€377.1m), the 12th richest football team in the world. 

Meanwhile, the list is entirely made up of clubs from the top five European leagues – England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain – reflecting the make-up of this season’s Champions League last 16 and demonstrating the difficulty faced by teams from smaller nations in competing at the top level.

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The Premier League, however, contributes fewer teams to both this year’s top 20 – eight, down from nine, with Newcastle United dropping out of the top 30 entirely – and the top 10, as Arsenal’s (€445.6m) failure to qualify for the Champions League in consecutive seasons has seen the club fall to 11th, replaced by Juventus (€459.7) in 10th. A further three Premier League teams – Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crystal Palace – appear in the top 30.

Italy remains the second-biggest contributor to the top 20, with four teams. AC Milan drops to 21st but is replaced by Napoli, with Inter Milan (14th, €364.6m) and AS Roma (16th, €231.0m) completing the Serie A lineup alongside Juventus.

Spain and Germany both have three sides on the list; Atlético Madrid in 13th, with revenues of €367.6m, joins the LaLiga top two, while Schalke, in 15th with €324.8m, rounds out the Bundesliga’s contingent.

French side Lyon is the other new entrant, and the highest riser overall in the list, moving up 11 places into 17th, with revenues of €220.8m, giving France two teams in the top 20.

Commercial focus

The report acknowledges that the biggest driver of the ongoing growth has been media-rights income, but notes that, given this revenue stream is “largely out of the control of the individual clubs”, they are likely to “sharpen their focus on maximising the revenue streams under their control – match day and commercial”.

According to SportBusiness Soccer data, over one third – €305.2m – of Barcelona’s total revenue was comprised of sponsorship income, with its 31 commercial partners paying an average of €9.8m each per season. The club has outlined its intention to become the first to generate €1bn in revenues by 2021 and has made increasing its commercial revenues a cornerstone of this strategy.