England tops football money league

England’s footballers are not good enough to qualify for the European Championships this summer. But when it comes to clubs, the Premier League is far and away the best on the planet.

That is the verdict of accountancy giant Deloitte – which has released a study into the richest clubs in the world.

Three of the planet’s five richest clubs play in England’s Premier League – Manchester United (second in the world), Chelsea (fourth) and Arsenal (fifth) – with six of the top 20 also in the English top flight.

“This is the first time that any country has had three clubs in the top five of the money league,” said Dan Jones, partner in the sports business group at Deloitte.

Why the Premier League is richer than ever

Fan-tastic profits
And there’s a simple reason for this – the fans in England are paying more.

While TV deals are worth millions in the UK, this isn’t helping those at the top end of the money tables. The people picking up the slack and propelling Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea into the bracket of the five richest clubs in the world are in the stadiums cheering on their sides.

Manchester United make 52% more money from their fans than from broadcasting rights, Chelsea make 26% more and Arsenal make an astonishing 104% more from their fans than their TV deals.

AC Milan have an average attendance of 59,200 but made less than £20 million from “matchday revenues” in the 2006/07 football season. Matchday revenues are the amount of money fans spend on tickets, food, drinks and programmes once in the stadium.

With matchday revenues of £90.6 million, Arsenal made four times more than AC Milan, despite having a much lower average attendance. Chelsea made £74.5 million from their fans on matchdays – but are not listed in the top-20 European clubs for average attendance. Barcelona (with the second-highest attendance in Europe at 70,900) made around £15 million less than Chelsea from their fans.

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TV still important
In most other countries in Europe, clubs negotiate their own TV deals.

If you’re Real Madrid (who have now come top of the football rich list for three years in a row) you can demand rather a lot for your TV rights, £89.1 million in fact. Barcelona don’t do too badly either, bringing in £71.8 million from broadcasting rights.

However, the winners in the broadcast stakes are AC Milan who make a cool £103.4 million from TV deals. By contrast, the biggest broadcast revenues for an English club were £61.5 million.

In England, the Premier League negotiates TV deals for league games on behalf of all clubs. While those at the top might not do as well as the biggest clubs in Italy and Spain, this means even clubs finishing in the bottom half of the table are guaranteed millions.

As well as Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal, Liverpool (eighth richest club in the world), Tottenham Hotspur (11th) and Newcastle (14th) are among the 20 richest clubs on the planet.

And with a new TV deal meaning even the worst club in the English Premier League is guaranteed £30 million in broadcasting rights this year, English clubs look set to dominate the money league for years to come.

“Clubs such as Aston Villa, Everton, Manchester City and West Ham United are already just outside the top 20 and with the revenue uplift from the new broadcast deals now benefiting the clubs, we expect to see the bottom half of next year’s Money League dominated by English teams,” said Paul Rawnsley, director of Deloitte’s sports business group.

Manchester United close in on title
Real Madrid have been the highest-earning club on the planet for the last three years – but the new Premier League TV deal means their position might be under threat.

“With the new Premier League television deals now online for the 2007/08 season, Manchester United have the opportunity to significantly close the gap on Real and a successful Champions League run may even see them challenge again for the number one position,” Deloitte’s Jones said.

The 20 richest clubs on the planet
Revenue (£m)
1 (1)
Real Madrid
2 (4)
Manchester United
3 (2)
FC Barcelona
4 (6)
5 (9)
6 (5)
AC Milan
7 (8)
Bayern Munich
8 (10)
9 (7)
10 (12)
AS Roma
11 (15)
Tottenham Hotspur
12 (3)
13 (11)
Olympique Lyonnais
14 (13)
Newcastle United
15 (16)
Hamburg SV
16 (14)
Schalke 04
17 (n/a)
18 (n/a)
19 (n/a)
Olympique de Marseille
20 (n/a)
Werder Bremen

Source: Deloitte Football Money League 2008
*Number in brackets is the club’s year position last year

Manchester City, Rangers, West Ham United and Benfica all dropped out of the money league top 20 in 2008.