According to data provided by Deloitte in their “Football Money League” report, which focuses on ranking football clubs around the world based on their revenue, last year’s top earner was FC Barcelona, which was able to generate a revenue of €840.8m.

By doing that, the Spanish team became also the first club to break the €800m revenue barrier. For the 2018/19 season, the podium is completed by another Spanish team, Real Madrid, in second place with a revenue of €757.3m, and by Manchester United, in third place, with €660.1m in revenue.

The other teams that make up the top 10 list are Bayern Munich (€660.1m), Paris Saint-Germain (€635.9m), Manchester City (€610.6m), Liverpool (€604.7m), Tottenham Hotspur (€521.1m), Chelsea (€513.1m), and Juventus (€459.7m).

English football

Among all major and minor leagues around the world, the English Premier League continues to be the one from which most of the richest football teams come from, in fact in this year’s top 20 list, there are 8 English clubs.

The second most represented country is Italy, with four teams in the top 20 coming from the Serie A, then the German Bundesliga, and the Spanish LaLiga, with three teams, and finally the French Ligue 1 with two teams.

It is interesting to see that, no club outside Europe’s “big five” leagues has entered the leaderboard (top 20), and no club from outside Europe is placed in the top 30 revenue generators in global football.

A possible explanation for this could be found in the relevance of the impact on revenue generated by the participation in UEFA club competitions (like the UEFA Champions League). In fact, the revenue of most clubs depends heavily on their on-pitch performance in UEFA competitions.

The impact of UEFA club competitions on revenue, is also evident among the big clubs, like in North London, with the rise of Spurs to a new record high of eighth driven by reaching the UEFA Champions League Final, whilst Arsenal drop two places as a direct result of not participating in the competition for the second consecutive season.


By looking at the revenue of the top 20 clubs we can see an interesting phenomenon, the polarisation and the emergence of a relative gap between top and medium/small clubs in major leagues, as well as between major clubs. In fact, for example, last year in the top 20 list, the highest placed club, Barcelona, generated 4.1 times the revenue of the 20th placed club, SSC Napoli, up from an equivalent ratio of 3.8 times in 2017/18.

A visible effect of this polarisation is that we see the emergence of so-called “mini-leagues”, as the largest revenue-generating clubs continue to pull away from the rest, creating a substantial gap between their mini-league and the mini-league below.

The implication here is that for any club to bridge the gap and move into the next tier would require a significant change in operations and/or performance.

The polarisation phenomenon is not new in football finance, however now it seems more relevant than ever before, mainly because it is likely to create a vicious cycle, where the richest clubs are those that go further in UEFA competitions and therefore are the ones that will earn more money at the end of the year, and so on.

The gap between clubs is amplified even further within many domestic leagues. In Spain, the success of Barcelona’s commercial operations means that it generates almost six times the revenue of the fifth placed La Liga club. (source: Deloitte)

Therefore, is important that the organizations that run football recognize this problem and take measures to handle it while preserving the competitive environment that is the beauty of this sport.

Women’s football

The 2018/19 season may be considered the watershed moment in the development of women’s football, it has seen a great increase in interest from the general public, media, and sponsors.

In fact, 1 billion people worldwide watched the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and a club game record was broken when 60,739 attended a Liga Femenina match between Atlético de Madrid and FC Barcelona.

It is also notable that now, of the top 20 revenue generating clubs globally, 17 have an elite women’s football team. Looking forward to 2020 and beyond, it is likely that the momentum behind, and the interest around women’s football competitions will continue to build.

FC Barcelona

The economic result of FC Barcelona is impressive, it is the first football club that has been able to break the €800m revenue barrier, thanks to an increase in revenue of €150.4m compared to last year, with record matchday and commercial revenue for a football club.

They have managed to obtain these results by diversifying and internationalizing their sources of revenue, in fact, they are considered a clear example of a club that has been able to adapt to changing market conditions, by reducing its reliance on broadcast revenue and focusing on growing revenues coming from sources that are under their control, and by looking beyond their domestic market, by playing promotional matches around the world, during the pre-season.

source: China Daily

In fact, the decision of bringing its licensing and merchandising operation in-house gave additional control to the club over how its products are promoted and sold, therefore bringing Barca’s commercial operations to generate a revenue of €385.5m, an increase of €60.9m from last year.

Moreover, the club benefitted from UEFA’s new broadcast deal which commenced in 2018/19, which led broadcast revenue to increase by €75.1m, in addition to reaching the UEFA Champions League Semi-final, compared to the Quarter-final in the previous season.

By looking at the overall data, the €83.5m gap to Real Madrid in second place is very impressive, especially if we look at the forecasts for next year’s results, with Barcelona expecting further growth of €30m, therefore they are expected to keep the first position even next year.

They could really become the first football club to exceed €1 billion in revenue, over the next few years.

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