Big clubs get richer shock!

Real Madrid have topped Deloitte’s football rich list for the eighth year in a row, with revenues breaking €500m euros for the first time. Of course if you’re dealing in pounds sterling then the figure shrinks to a less headline-worthy £414 million.

Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Chelsea make up the rest of the top five spots, based on figures for the 2011-12 season.

Chelsea’s revenues were boosted significantly by winning both the Champions League and the FA Cup. United, who failed to reach the knockout stages, were able to fall back on their commercial strength to boost earnings by €32 million.

Manchester City, perhaps inevitably, were joint top climbers (along with Napoli), jumping five places from twelfth to seventh spot.

The club’s revenues rose to €286m from €170m the previous season, thanks to winning the Premier League and a creative sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways worth a reported €480m.

Arsenal dropped one place to sixth behind fellow London club Chelsea, but recorded a €40m-euro rise in revenues.

Liverpool held on to ninth spot, despite a disappointing season in the Premier League and a lack of Champions League football. Revenues grew by €30m – almost enough to buy another Andy Carroll!

Italian clubs Milan and Juventus, who won Serie A, took the other places in the top 10 list.

The only new entry in the top 20 were Newcastle, although in the event of them ever having to settle Alan Pardew’s redundancy package, a precipitous slide down the standings seems inevitable.

Outside the big five European leagues, Dutch club Ajax were placed 24th with revenues of €104.1m, while Turkey’s Galatasaray, new home of Wesley Sneijder, were 30th, with revenues of €95.1m.

Outside Europe, Brazilian club Corinthians, who won this year’s Club World Cup, were next after Galatasaray on the list, with revenues of €94.1m.

Position (prior
 position) – Club 2011-12 Revenue (€m) (2010/11 Revenue)
1 (1) Real Madrid 512.6 (479.5)
2 (2) Barcelona 483 (450.7)
3 (3) Manchester United 395.9 (367)
4 (4) Bayern Munich 368.4 (321.4)
5 (5) Chelsea 322.6 (253.1)
6 (6) Arsenal 290.3 (251.1)
7 (12) Manchester City 285.6 (169.6)
8 (7) Milan 256.9 (234.8)
9 (9) Liverpool 233.2 (203.3)
10 (13) Juventus 195.4 (153.9)
11 (16) Borussia Dortmund 189.1 (138.5)
12 (8) Internazionale 185.9 (211.4)
13 (11) Tottenham Hotspur 178.2 (181)
14 (10) Schalke 04 174.5 (202.4)
15 (20) Napoli 148.4 (114.9)
16 (14) Marseille 135.7 (150.4)
17 (17) Lyon 131.9 (132.8)
18 (18) Hamburg 121.1 (128.8)
19 (15) Roma 115.9 (143.5)
20 (new)Newcastle United 115.3 (98)

Storm in a League Cup?

The Football Association will review the incident that saw Eden Hazard kick out at a ball-boy during Chelsea’s Capital One Cup semi-final second leg match at Swansea City.

Hazard was trying to retrieve the ball from under Charlie Morgan, the son of the City director Martin Morgan, who clung on to it in a bid to waste time during the goalless draw at the Liberty Stadium.

Still, it could have been worse for the ball boy: had it been Ashley Cole, he might have shot him.

Morgan is referred to as a ball ‘boy’ although at the age of 17 perhaps ball ‘man’ would be more appropriate. Like all cunning criminals, he tweeted in advance about his intentions to waste time.

If that was dumb, then for Chelsea’s official Twitter page – since removed – to state  ‘Has football gone mad? Hazard is sent off for kicking the ball under a ball boy attempting to smother the ball rather than return it’ was even dumber.

It’s customary in the wake of such incidents to moan about declining standards and complain about things not being like they used to be, but few can match Chelsea boss Rafa Benitez, who according to the Telegraph’s Henry Winter, “finished a lively press conference by saying that ball-boy incident is reflective of a fame-driven “Big Brother society”.

A truly bizarre response to a surreal incident.

Here’s some not-too-conclusive footage of the incident:

The ball boy certainly makes the most of the contact, and while one doesn’t wish to condone Hazard, talk of a long-term ban and comparisons with the infamous Eric Cantona incident, seem a little knee jerk.

History makers

The disappointing aspect of ballboygate is that it overshadowed a momentous night for Swansea.

The Welsh side had never reached a major cup final in their 100-year history. Fittingly, in their centenary year, they can bury that ghost. Hard to believe that exactly ten years ago Swansea were rooted to the bottom of the Football League and they, like their Capital One Cup final opponents, Bradford City, have flirted with extinction in recent years.

Indeed the two sides have not met since a 2-2 League One draw at Valley Parade on Jan 13, 2007. Swansea’s Leon Britton played that day in front of 7,347. That the pair will now meet and Wembley, and not in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, is quite remarkable.

For their opponents, Chelsea, defeat was disappointing, but not cataclysmic. Naturally, when you are the fifth richest club in world football there are bigger fish to fry, and in Chelsea’s case, that will be the Europa League which resumes next month. Big fish, small sea, I hear you cry.

Pretentious, moi?

Speaking of the aforementioned Cantona, the former French international helped raised over £100,000 for a homeless charity after donating a Rolls Royce to be covered in graffiti.

The former Manchester United player handed the 1984 Rolls Royce Corniche II to New York-based graffiti artist JonOne, who sprayed the bodywork with colourful paint.

The proceeds will go to the Foundation Abbe Pierre, a French homeless charity of which Cantona is a patron.

Cantona said: “I decided to donate it because it’s the ultimate symbol of wealth, and will help those in ultimate poverty.

“This Rolls Royce painted by the world-renowned street artist JonOne has a real coherence and a lot of force.”

Here’s the car after it had been ‘painted’. Those of you with young children will recognise the brushwork.

Here’s Cantona explaining his decision; unfortunately, it’s in French.

Real deal

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has furiously denied reports that he was approached by a contingent of players demanding that he get rid of coach Jose Mourinho. 

Reports from Spain earlier on Thursday suggested that the Madrid squad, led by Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos, had told Perez to choose between the manager and the players.

“I break my rule not to speak to the press about the club’s day-by-day business due to the seriousness of the allegations published by Marca,” Perez said at a press conference.

“I’m not here to talk about Iker, only to deny the information that has come out this morning. I haven’t spoken to Mourinho, I came here of my own accord. They cannot play with an institution like Real Madrid.

“It is absolutely false that the captains said anything negative about the coach. No ultimatum was issued by Casillas or Ramos. The level of responsibility of the captains is incompatible with this information.

“The information published today [Thursday] is a pure lie, and it’s a serious attack against the club. I have a lot of respect for the press and I always listen to criticism, regardless of whether I think it’s fair or not.

“But there are limits that must be respected. This is a serious matter. It is not a typical daily rumor, on who we sign or who we dismiss, It’s about ethics.”

Despite the denial, Marca, who first broke the story, are sticking by it.

Boom time for Bundesliga

Germany’s Bundesliga continues to go from strength to strength with the announcement that it broke the €2 billion revenue barrier for the first time in the 2011-12 season.

The German Football League (DFL) released its 2013 Bundesliga Report with the 1.Bundesliga generating €2.08 billion in revenue compared to last year’s figure of €1.94 billion.

Significantly, the league produced a post-tax profit of €55 million with 14 of its 18 clubs making a profit. Contrast that with the rest of debt-laden Europe, where many clubs survive only through the largesse of benevolent owners.

Germany’s Golden Age is reflected in the stadiums too, with record numbers passing through the turnstiles.

The Bundesliga pulled in an average of 42,101 spectators per match, a 0.7% increase on the previous season. Altogether, 12.88 million fans paid to watch 306 top-flight matches in Germany that season.

One reason for the boom is ticket prices which are far cheaper in Germany than, for instance, England, with an average price of €22.75. That would just about buy you a hot dog at the Emirates.

“For the ninth time in the last 10 years we have had an increase in fans going to stadia,” said German Football League chief executive Christian Seifert  . “The Bundesliga is booming without a doubt and yet again it is the strongest league in the world in terms of attendances, as reflected in the fact that almost 94% of games were sold out.”

Another reason cited for the strong attendance figures is that the league is more open than many of it’s European counterparts.

“An exciting competition with attractive matches, family-friendly prices and modern stadiums are the key factors,” said Seifert who also noted that no single investor can own more than 49% of a club.

Therein lies a lesson, I would have thought.

Goal of the day

Say what you like about Lukas Podolski – and not all Arsenal fans have been overly impressed with his contribution since he arrived from Cologne in the summer – but when he hits the ball it stays hit. This missile brought Arsenal level against West Ham.

Quote of the day

“I am better than ever before at the moment. I am on top of my game. I am among the best and most important players in the world. Everybody knows me and they all have a lot of respect for my abilities. I will do my utmost to make sure I keep performing at this level.”

Whatever else he might lack, Franck Ribery is certainly not short on self confidence.

Stuck in limbo

Fabricio Coloccini is leaving Newcastle United, even though the club he wants to join say they cannot afford to buy him.

The 31-year-old captain says he will never play for the Premier League club again, as he seeks to return home to Argentina to deal with “personal matters”. Coloccini’s wife is already believed to have returned home to Argentina.

The defender had been hopeful of a move to Argentinian side San Lorenzo, for whom Coloccini played on loan in the 2000-01 season. and where his father Osvaldo works.

A statement from the Argentinian club confirmed defeat in their attempts to sign the Newcastle captain.

“Finally, after long negotiations, we announce that Fabricio Coloccini will not join the roster of San Lorenzo,” it read. “It is not possible to release the Newcastle player, and therefore the club will look for another alternative to strengthen the defence.”

Talks had taken place earlier this week between Coloccini’s representatives and officials from Newcastle in a bid to broker a peace deal where the central defender would stay at St James’ Park until the end of the season, have also faltered and now the player is set to quit.

Honest to a fault

Bruno César has admitted that his move from Benfica to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ahli was motivated by money, but has dismissed suggestions he is a “mercenary”.

The 24-year-old recently left Portugal for an undisclosed fee, and signed a three-and-a-half-year contract.

“I am no mercenary,” he told Renascenca on Wednesday. “It is a very good contract. It will provide me and my family with great financial stability.

“There are two sides to the coin. It will be a much more tranquil life financially, but sports-wise it will distance me from my objectives which are the national team, playing in Europe and the Champions League, and being among the best clubs in the world.”

The Brazil international, who left Brazilian side Corinthians in 2011, made his debut for the Seleção in 2011 and has made on eappearance for the national side since then.