The world's richest football clubs revealed in new study

Manchester United have held on to top spot as the world’s richest club, by just £1.7m from Real Madrid, thanks to their victory in the Europa League final against Ajax.

It is the 10th time United have been top of the league, compiled by Deloitte, for the highest revenue generating club in the world, although the winning margin has never been smaller.

United, guided by chief executive, Ed Woodward, generated revenue of €676m (£581m), pipping Champions League winners Real Madrid, even though the Spanish giants’ success in Europe’s most prestigious club competition saw their revenue grow in the last 12 months by 54.5m euros.

And it was United’s own success in Europe that meant they clung on to top spot as their victory in the Europa League final meant they received €44.5m in payments from Uefa, four times more than Atlético Madrid received in 2011-12 for winning the same competition.

As expected United and Real Madrid are joined by Barcelona to complete the top three places, with Bayern Munich fourth.

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Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: “European football continues to flourish financially, with almost half a billion Euro of revenue growth for the top 20 Money League clubs. And at the top, we’ve seen the closest ever battle for the top spot, with Manchester United pipping Real Madrid to retain their title of the highest revenue generating club in the world. United generated £581m in 2016/17.

“United’s ability to retain first position is all the more impressive against the backdrop of the weakened pound against the Euro, and with both Real Madrid and Barcelona forecasting further revenue growth in 2017-18, the battle at the top will likely come down to on-pitch performance again next year.

Man Utd players celebrate goal - Credit: AP
United were able to pip Real Madrid to the title thanks to money earned winning the Europa LeagueCredit: AP

“With all three clubs through to the round of 16 of the Uefa Champions League, it may be as simple as the club that goes furthest in the competition will have the best chance of topping the Money League next year.”

Although the traditional big four sit at the top of the table, the Premier League’s extravagant television deal – which is likely to increase again when it is renegotiated later this year - means there are ten English clubs among the top 20 richest clubs in the world.

That is a record for one country, with Southampton (18th, £182.3m) making their debut Money League appearance.

Manchester City consolidated their place in the top five and Leicester City rose to 14th, from 20th last year, with television revenue the biggest single revenue stream for all of the 20 richest clubs

Whilst all Premier League clubs benefited from the improved broadcast deals, it was Southampton and Leicester’s performance in European competitions which saw them gain their highest ever respective positions.

Southampton’s broadcast revenue alone is greater than the total revenue of the 26th ranked team in this year’s Money League (Crystal Palace, £140.9m).

Elsewhere, Arsenal climb above Paris St-Germain into sixth and Tottenham Hotspur rise one place to 11th. Chelsea and Liverpool remain in eighth and ninth respectively with West Ham United in 17th and Everton in 20th.

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Outside of the top 20, there are four more English clubs ranked 21 – 30, with AFC Bournemouth in 28th place. The Cherries’ revenue of £136.8m in 2016-17 is £135.7m higher than their equivalent figure in the first ever Money League in 1996-97.

Paris Saint-Germain slipped down to seventh, with Arsenal moving above them, but another French club, Olympique Lyonnais, are resurgent, ranking just outside the top 20 after benefiting from increased revenue from their move to a new stadium and a successful run to the semi-final of the Europa League.

AC Milan miss out for the first time on a top 20 ranking, but city rivals Internazionale move up four places to 15th after significant commercial revenue growth, following a takeover by the Chinese company, Suning.

Performance in Uefa competitions was key to Napoli taking 19th place and AS Roma dropping out of the Money League for only the third time since the Money League analysis began 21 years ago.