Real Madrid and Barcelona lead as world’s most valuable football brands in the face of Covid

The latest edition of the Brand Finance Football Annual, has revealed the most valuable football brands in the world as well as the impact that the Covid-19 crisis has had on the industry.


La Liga on the Rise

Real Madrid have retained their position as the most valuable football club in the world, narrowly beating on-pitch rivals Barcelona who also lost out to Los Blancos in the race for the La Liga title. It seems that the 34th title for Madrid, the first since 2017, helped boost the side to the top of the football economics table as well. However, Real Madrid’s brand value was down by 14 per cent to €1,419 million, thought to be caused primarily by Covid-19 pandemic.

Real Madrid had always been viewed as the domineering force in Brand Finance rankings but shortcomings in past seasons has seen this supremacy diminish, such as the early exit from the UEFA Champions League at the hands of Ajax in the 2018/19 season, alongside another season of continued poor results in the league.

Additionally, La Liga had eight teams as part of the ranking with two of those side seeing an increase in their brand value. Both Valencia (+32 per cent) and Athletic Bilbao (+11 per cent) will be satisfied to see the growth in their value despite the difficulties faced from the pandemic. The new broadcasting deal for La Liga is understood to have had a positive financial influence on the 20 competing clubs, yet, the gap between Real, Barca and Atletico Madrid with the rest of the league is believed to be more than 300 per cent.

The Covid-19 Impact

The pandemic has had a detrimental effect on a number of industries, one of them being the football industry, which has caused a decrease in value of the top 50 football brands for the first time in six years, knocking off €751 million cumulatively across the 50 teams.

The forced break across Europe saw some leagues restart once more but with fixtures taking place behind closed doors. The big five leagues (the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1) do not depend on matchday revenue like the smaller leagues do, nonetheless, the repayment of broadcasting contracts, as seen with the Premier League who had to repay over £330 million to domestic broadcasters and the cancelled Ligue 1 who repaid €243 million, would have caused the damage to the potential revenue of the respected clubs.

The long-term effects of the pandemic are yet to be seen as the brunt of player-wage cuts, sponsors, the transfer market and broadcasting can only be revealed after the lockdown.

The Premier League’s Dominance Continues

Manchester United follow Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Brand Finance rankings with their value falling by 11 per cent to €1,314 million. Liverpool have overtaken Manchester City by jumping to fourth position after winning the long-awaited league title for the first time in 30 years. Chelsea fell one place in the table, arguably caused by the absence in the Champions League and the transfer ban.

The Premier League’s top six clubs are known for their riches but only Liverpool and Tottenham saw a growth in their value. Tottenham, who are now playing in their brand-new stadium, have seen a 3 per cent growth thus far with expected further growth yet to come.

Wolverhampton Wanderers’ high attendances has contributed to a 30 per cent increase, along with Leicester City whose brand value is up by 44 per cent.

In contrast, some clubs have seen a significant drop off in value, most notably Bournemouth (-31 per cent), Watford (-21 per cent), West Ham United (-18 per cent) and Arsenal (-19 per cent). Arsenal’s lack of Champions League football and struggle to finish among the top six in the table, has put their place in the top 10 in danger.

Germany, France and Italy Still Make Up the ‘Big Five’

The German football dynamo, Bayern Munich, are the sixth most valuable club with a 20 per cent drop in revenue from the year previous. Bayern remain the clear leader in Germany with almost double the brand value of their closest contenders, Borussia Dortmund. 1. FC Koln is the fastest growing brand in the top 50 by seeing a growth of 47 per cent.

It is a similar story in France with Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) the clear powerhouse of the league, ranking seventh overall. The nearest another French club can get to the capitals club is 30th where Lyon currently occupy, followed by Marseille in 38th.

Juventus remain outside of the top 10 but the gap between 11th and 10th has closed considerably by over €100 million. Juve’s Italian rivals have struggled to close the gap themselves with Inter failing to grow at all and AC Milan’s continuing on-pitch problems holding them back.

The Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A’s reach is far smaller than that of the Premier League and La Liga in the growing sports nations of the US and China. Bundesliga’s interest in China has been growing but Ligue 1 and Serie A have catching up to do if they want to build their franchises on a global scale.

The highest-placed club from outside the big five leagues in Europe is the Netherlands’ Ajax (27th), followed by Portugal’s Benfica (46th), Celtic of Scotland (48th), and Russia’s Zenit St. Petersburg (49th).

Enterprise Values and Stadia Performance

Real Madrid have also maintained their place as the most valuable business in the industry with, an enterprise value of €4,198 million. One of the most noteworthy increases in enterprise value was Tottenham who climbed to ninth in the ranking with a value of €2,114 million following a successful Champions League run, where they reached the final, and gate receipts from the new stadium.

The new stadium has also become the title winners of stadium performance, a rise from fourth last year, according to Buro Happold’s Venue Performance Rating system. It is impressive for a new stadium to reach the top of the table with one of the metrics relating to historical performance. Moreover, it has a smaller capacity to that of Wembley and Camp Nou.



Author: Jake Wilkin


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