Manchester United’s record-breaking revenues have propelled them back to the top of Deloitte’s Football Money League.
The £515.3m the Red Devils generated in the 2015-16 campaign represents the largest figure ever recorded by a football club and ends Real Madrid’s 11-year stay at the summit.
Madrid dropped down to third in the standings, with bitter LaLiga rivals Barcelona in second, despite their earnings rising from £439m to £463.8m.
United’s position was strengthened by their return to the UEFA Champions League but it was their commercial dealings, which grew by £71m, which proved the key to the surge.
Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, comments: “Manchester United have had to wait 11 years to regain their position as the world’s leading revenue-generating club and it has taken phenomenal commercial revenue growth to help them achieve this.
“In recent years, their ability to secure commercial partnerships with value in excess of that achievable by their peers has been the crucial factor in enabling the club to regain their place at the top of the Money League.
“That said, they’ll face strong competition from FC Barcelona and Real Madrid to retain the top spot in next year’s edition, due to the lack of Champions League football, the weakening of the Pound against the Euro and, over the longer term, as other clubs enter the commercial market demanding similar deals, using United as the precedent.”
Combined revenues across all 20 of the world’s top clubs totalled £5.5billion, which also shows football’s considerable growth as that number is 12 per cent higher than last year.
The English Premier League has eight teams in the top 20 this year, equalling its own record total.
To cap a remarkable year, shock champions Leicester City take their place as the 20th highest revenue-generating club in football in the world.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham remain in seventh, eighth, ninth and 12th respectively.
Manchester City has climbed into the top five for the first time since the creation of Deloitte’s standings 20 years ago.
West Ham United are the only other English representative in the top 20, coming in at 18th, ahead of Inter and the Foxes in the bottom two spots.
Tim Bridge, senior manager at Deloitte, comments: “The Money League continues to demonstrate the Premier League’s financial strength in depth. The appearance of Leicester City shows that on-pitch success gives any Premier League team a chance of a position in the top 20.
“With Leicester having already qualified for the Round of 16 in this year’s UEFA Champions League competition, we can expect to see them maintain their position in the top 20 and potentially climb a few places.”