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Europe may be mired in a recession and austerity but the continent's biggest soccer clubs (football clubs to those in Europe) are continuing to look recession-proof. Combined income among the top 10 clubs in 2011-2012 rose 10 percent on last year to 4.8 billion euros ($6.5 billion), according to a new report from business advisory firm Deloitte.
Deloitte calculates the total revenue of each club through a combination of match day income, broadcasting and commercial deals. The top six clubs remained the same for the fifth consecutive year, while only one new side broke into the list. English clubs continue to dominate, with teams in the English Premier League comprising seven of the top twenty.
The rankings are based on revenue for the 2011-2012 season in euros. We've converted the figures into dollars based on the current exchange rate.
So which clubs made the top ten? Click ahead to find out.
By James Knight and Bianca Schlotterbeck
195.4 million euros ($265.3 million)
Italy's most successful club recaptured the league title in 2011/12, helping to fire the Old Lady back into the money league's top ten. Its first Serie A title since 2002/3 ensured total revenue increased by 27 percent despite its absence from the lucrative European Champions League in 2010/11.
A significant increase in match day revenue and bonuses received for their on-pitch success, made up for the absence of the broadcasting income that Europe's premier continental competition generates. This bodes well for the long term, as their return to the Champions League in 2012/13 and the on-going run in the competition may propel them further up the list next year.
233.2 million euros ($316.6 million)
Liverpool remains in the top ten, despite a relatively poor year on the pitch. Total revenue increased by just 3 percent, as the club's domestic cup participation managed to offset the financial hit caused by its complete absence from European competitions for the first time in over a decade. By winning the League Cup, and reaching the final of the FA Cup, the club managed to increase match day revenue by 11 percent to 55.9 million euros ($75.9 million) in 2011/12.
One positive for Liverpool is the way its new American owners FSG, who also own the Boston Red Sox, have been attempting to develop the club's international brand. A number of new sponsorship deals – most notably an agreement with Warrior Sports worth 25 million pounds ($15.6 million) per year – have contributed to a 4 percent increase in commercial revenue to almost 100 million euros ($135.7 million). Ultimately, though, the Anfield club must return to the Champions League, or risk sliding off the list.
256.9 million euros ($348.8 million)
Silvio Berlusconi's team is the top ranked Italian club in the money league, although it fell one place thanks to Manchester City's surge in financial power. The club, owned by the former Italian Prime Minister and controversial billionaire, saw its revenues rise by 9 percent over the previous year thanks to a significant improvement in broadcasting revenue caused by its best performance in the Champions League in five years.
With an ageing stadium, Milan's ability to generate enough match day income to compete with the sides above them is diminishing. It only managed to increase match day revenue by 0.1 percent, a paltry number considering the increased number of games held in the stadium due to its Champions League performance. Even though Milan's San Siro has double the capacity of Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium, it earned just one third the revenue. The exodus of Milan's stars, led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, is unlikely to help either attendance figures or on-field performance. The club may struggle to hold off Juventus as Italy's financial leader.
285.6 million euros ($387.8 million)
The English champions make the top ten for the first time, courtesy of a 51 percent increase in revenue. Manchester City's first league title in 44 years combined with their first foray into the Champions League helped increase revenue across the board. Commercial income provided a significant chunk of that as it rose to 138.5 million euros ($188 million), almost double the year before.
A poor performance in Europe slightly tempered their excellent financial results. The disparity between clubs who participate in the European Champions League and those who don't is displayed in Manchester City's broadcast revenue this year. Their European campaign brought in 27.8 million euros ($37.7 million) in broadcast money, compared to just 6.1 million euros the previous year, when they had only competed in the lower level Europa League. Key to their long term prospects of breaking into the real elite, in the top five of the money league, will be significantly improved performances in the Champions League and a continuing development of sponsorship deals to improve the global brand.
290.3 million euros ($394.1 million)
Arsenal's financial results reflected its on-pitch performance, in that it remained virtually the same as last year. Total revenue rose 4 percent, while each individual revenue stream was fairly constant from 2010/11. Arsenal's match day revenue contributes the largest to its total income among the top ten earning clubs – with revenue of 117 million euros in 2011/12.
The club overall remains in just sixth place despite such strong match day income because its on-field results have stagnated, preventing broadcast revenues from increasing. The club also lags in commercial revenues, despite a long-term kit and stadium sponsorship deal with Emirates. Commercial revenues increased slightly to 64.9 million euros ($88 million), but that's much less than Manchester United's 130 million euros.
322.6 million euros ($438 million)
Chelsea maintains its top five place among Europe's richest clubs thanks to considerable on-field success last season. Their European Champions League win, in particular, contributed significantly to an overall revenue increase of 14 percent, as it meant match day and broadcast revenues were both up 15 percent on 2010/11. That increase comes despite its match day income being restricted by the capacity of the Stamford Bridge stadium, which at 42,000 means it cannot compete with the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United in this area.
The club's plans for a new stadium have been held back by their failed bid to buy the Battersea Power Station site, while an early exit from the 2012/13 Champions League will also affect all revenue streams next year. Without on-field success, Chelsea will struggle to maintain its place in this list as Arsenal and especially Manchester City have revenue streams less reliant on footballing success.
368.4 million euros ($500.2 million)
Despite another season without claiming a trophy, German behemoth Bayern strengthened its position near the top of the list in 2011/12. A strong performance across the board, reaching both the domestic cup and European Champions League finals as well as finishing second in the Bundesliga, helped overall revenue increase by 15 percent.
The Champions League run, in which the final was held at its home stadium, was the biggest factor in a 19 percent increase in match day revenue, as well as an 11.2 million euro ($15.2 million) increase in broadcasting income. Commercial revenue continues to make up over half of the club's overall income, with it becoming the first side ever to bring in over 200 million euros ($271 million) through commercial activity, as their relentless commercialism helped create strong sponsorship links and lucrative deals. Excellent on-field performance is, as always, crucial to its on-going financial success, and an excellent first half of 2012/13 suggests its position among Europe's richest clubs is secure.
395.9 million euros ($537.5 million)
Manchester United maintains its third spot and continues to be the highest ranked English side on the list despite total revenue actually declining in 2011/12. A 3 percent fall in revenue is primarily down to losing its Premier League title to rivals Manchester City and falling early in the European Champions League and the domestic FA Cup.
The club's poor Champions League performance, having reached the final the previous year, contributed to an 11 percent fall in both broadcast revenue, to 128.5 million euros ($174 million), and match day income, which dropped to 122 million euros ($165 million). The club's commercial success continues, however, as demonstrated by a world record $559 million, seven year shirt sponsorship deal with General Motors, which begins in 2014. The deal, combined with improved performance in the European competition, as well as a likely victory in the current Premier League championship, should consolidate Manchester United's position among Europe's richest clubs.
483 million euros ($655.8 million)
Barcelona managed to increase its overall revenue by 7 percent despite surrendering the domestic title to arch-rivals Real Madrid and failing to retain its European Champions League crown. Its revenue growth was down almost entirely to commercial factors, as its shirt sponsorship deal with Qatar Sports Investments took hold. In two years the club's commercial revenue has increased by 53 percent and it has finally broken with tradition to allow a for-profit entity to be displayed on their shirts.
The club's broadcast revenue fell by 2 percent despite an increased domestic rights deal, while match day revenue was up 5 percent to 116.3 million euros ($158 million). Although their Nou Camp stadium capacity is over 90,000, the Catalan club has fallen behind Arsenal into fourth in terms of match day income. With better use of this resource it may be able to cut the gap and move to the top spot among Europe's richest clubs.
512.6 million euros ($696 million)
Real Madrid heads the list of Europe's richest clubs for the eighth consecutive year, equaling Manchester United's record, and also becoming the first club ever to produce total revenue of more than 500 million euros ($678 million). This financial success reflected a tremendous on-field effort from the Spanish giants, as it broke numerous records in regaining the domestic title from Barcelona.
Broadcast revenue was up 9 percent in 2011/12, to 199.2 million euros ($270.5 million), thanks to a number of friendlies played all over the world and the fact that Spanish clubs are able to negotiate their own television rights rather than be part of a collective. Commercial revenue also increased by 9 percent, demonstrating the power of the Real Madrid brand and their ability to record excellent results despite challenging economic conditions in Spain. Match day revenue rose 2 percent to 126.2 million euros ($171 million), a figure expected to increase substantially in the future as the club plans to develop their Santiago Bernabaeu stadium.
Higher capacity plus more corporate hospitality should vastly increase this revenue stream which, combined with the likelihood of continued on-field success in the long term, means it's difficult to see Real Madrid being dislodged from top spot for some considerable time.