Manchester United have been confirmed as the world’s highest revenue generating club, ending Real Madrid’s 11-year domination of the Deloitte Money League. The Money League is the most reliable analysis of clubs’ financial performances as it measures matchday revenue, broadcast rights and commercial sources, though not include player transfers. The Premier League side posted record revenue of €689 million (£515.3 million), finishing comfortably ahead of La Liga giants Barcelona (€620.2 million) and Real Madrid (€620.1 million) in the Money League.

The 2017 edition of the Money League measured clubs’ financial performances from the 2015/16 season, during which total revenue for the top 20 clubs rose by 12% to a record €7.4 billion (£5.5 billion). To put this into context, this is a 574% increase compared to the first edition 20 years ago, when clubs generated total revenue of £816 million.

Manchester United, who last finished top of the Money League in 2003/04, posted substantial increases in all three revenue categories (matchday, broadcasting and commercial), particularly from their commercial income (a 53% increase to €363.8 million). This growth sees them displace Real Madrid at the top, despite the fact los Blancos recorded income of more than €600 million for the first time. Barcelona also finish in the top three, generating revenue of €100,000 more than their fierce rivals, but Real Madrid’s expenditure (not recorded in the Money League) was also less than the Blaugrana’s last season.

“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,” Dan Jones, a partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, explained. “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.”

Thanks to the league’s lucrative TV deals, Premier League clubs dominate the Money League with eight teams in the top 20. As well as Jose Mourinho’s side, it features Manchester City (with revenue of €524.9 million), Arsenal (€468.5 mln), Chelsea (€447.4 mln) and Liverpool (€403.8 mln) in the top 10. Further down the table are Tottenham Hotspur (€279.7 mln), West Ham United (€192.3 mln) and league champions Leicester City (€172.1 mln).

2017 Deloitte Money League
2017 Deloitte Money League

Serie A is the next highest represented league in the top 20 with four clubs, although Juventus’ income – as expected – dwarfs that of their domestic competitors. The Bianconeri generated revenue of €341.1 million, an increase of around 5%. This was primarily due to a €30 million increase in commercial income, a result of their kit deal with Adidas and an extension to their shirt sponsorship deal with Jeep.

Roma are Italy’s second highest placed side, with income of €218.2 million in 2015/16, largely thanks to reaching the Round of 16 in the Champions League and the resulting 71% increase in broadcast revenue. The Giallorossi do, however, remain without a main shirt sponsor. The two Milan clubs complete the Italian contingent, with Milan (€214.7 million) continuing to generate more income than rivals Inter (€179.2 million).

Italy’s clubs may find it difficult to hold onto their rankings though, as both English and Spanish clubs will benefit from new TV deals taking effect in 2016/17. “We expect this record year, driven by increased broadcast and commercial revenues, to be eclipsed next year,” Dan Jones explains in his forecast for next year’s edition. “New domestic broadcast deals starting in 2016/17 for Premier League and La Liga clubs (as well as international broadcast deals for the Premier League), mean the 21st edition will see the €8 billion barrier broken. The weakened Pound will help ensure a close three-way fight between Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Manchester United for top spot.”