Real Madrid maintained their position as the world’s richest club as English clubs climbed the rankings to claim three of the top five slots in an annual survey by Deloitte.
Manchester United climbed two places to second in the latest ‘Football Money League’ table of the world’s 20 biggest clubs ranked by revenue, Deloitte said, with fellow Premiership teams Chelsea and Arsenal lying fourth and fifth behind Barcelona.
The Spanish champions revenue rose by 20 per cent to £236million; however United showed a bigger increase to come in second at £212million.
Combined revenues for the top 20 clubs rose by 11 percent to £2.7 billion, the highest rate of growth since the 2002-03 season, Deloitte said.
The top 20 included six English clubs, four from both Germany and Italy; three from Spain, two French and one from Scotland.
Paul Rawnsley, director of Deloitte’s sports business group, said: “Real Madrid are still at the top after an impressive 20 per cent growth in revenue, but Manchester United closed the gap and have the potential to catch Real up and take that top spot possibly next season or the season thereafter.
“To some extent, that will depend on how they perform relative to Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.”
As well as the leading three English clubs, Liverpool (8th), Tottenham (11th) and Newcastle (14th) – are included in the top 20. The number of the Premiership clubs is expected to increase next year because of of this season’s £300m Premier League broadcast deal.
“We would expect to see as many as 10 of the top 20 being made up by English Premier League clubs in next year’s table,” Rawnsley added.
“There are different ways of measuring the health and quality of the league, but there has been period of strong financial growth in terms of broadcasting rights and matchday and commercial revenues.
“Yes, the clubs spend a lot of money on wages, but overall, the Premier League clubs are profitable.
“It is a different story lower down the leagues, but the Premier League is the highest revenue-generating league in the world.”
On the proposal of an ‘international round’ of fixtures, Rawnsley added: “In terms of the quality of the football and the quality of the competition, that is sustainable.
“It continues to have strength here in England and continues to grow in strength in terms of people wanting to watch matches and wanting to be associated with the English Premier League clubs and English football around the world.
“That could be fans overseas watching it on television and driving up the television rights; it could be sponsors from the USA or Asia or wherever else in the world who want to be associated with the game.
“But there is a balance to be struck. Fans want to see their club winning football matches and winning trophies because that is what football is all about.
“But on the business side of the game, clubs are competing against each other for players, and to able to get better players, they need and want to have more revenue.
“Exploiting their brand value, not just here but around the world, can generate that revenue.
“The football side and the business side are very much inter-related, but there is a balance that does need to be achieved.”
The rich list 2008
1 (1) Real Madrid £236.2m
2 (4) Manchester United £212.1m
3 (2) Barcelona £195.3m
4 (6) Chelsea £190.5m
5 (9) Arsenal £177.6m
6 (5) Milan £153.0m
7 (8) Bayern Munich £150.3m
8 (10) Liverpool £133.9m
9 (7) Internazionale £131.3m
10 (12) Roma £106.1m
11 (15) Tottenham Hotspur £103.1m
12 (3) Juventus £97.7m
13 (11) Lyon £94.6m
14 (13) Newcastle United £87.1m
15 (16) Hamburg £81.0m
16 (14) Schalke 04 £76.9m
17 (-) Celtic £75.2m
18 (-) Valencia £72.4m
19 (-) Marseille £66.6m
20 (-) Werder Bremen £65.5m
Last year’s position in brackets.