First Billion Dollar Football Brand? Not Barcelona, Manchester United!
- Manchester United overtakes Bayern Munich to become the world’s most valuable soccer brand
- New York listed Manchester United the first billion dollar football brand
- Record-breaking deals agreed despite two mediocre seasons, driving up value
- Champions League final victory adds $28 million to Barcelona’s brand value
- But Barca is 6th, having been overtaken by Chelsea and Manchester City
- Southampton is the fastest growing brand, up 89% on 2014
- MLS teams fail to feature despite growing international stature
However as glorious as Barca’s record may be, it simply has not been able to harness its brand to the same extent as rivals Real Madrid (whose brand is $100 million more valuable) or the rapidly growing English teams. Man City and Chelsea have both overtaken it for the first time, pushing Barca into 6th place in the Brand Finance Football 50.
Thanks to sporting success and a squad stacked with legendary figures such as Messi and Neymar, Barcelona actually has the strongest brand of any club, rated AAA+ by Brand Finance. However ‘brand strength’ only reflects the notional potential of the brand. For a club’s brand to generate income a business team that is as star-studded and tactically brilliant as the team on the pitch is required. That is how to build brand value.
|Rank 2015||Rank 2014||Team||Country||Brand Value 2015 (US$m)||Brand Rating 2015||Brand Value 2015 (US$m)||Brand Rating 2014||Change (US$m)||Change (%)|
|1||3||Manchester United FC||England||1206||AAA||739||AAA||467||63%|
|2||1||FC Bayern München||Germany||933||AAA||896||AAA||36||4%|
|3||2||Real Madrid CF||Spain||873||AAA+||768||AAA+||104||14%|
|4||5||Manchester City FC||England||800||AAA-||510||AAA-||290||57%|
|9||10||Paris Saint-Germain FC||France||541||AAA-||324||AAA-||217||67%|
|10||12||Tottenham Hotspur FC||England||360||AA+||248||AA+||111||45%|
|13||11||FC Schalke 04||Germany||302||AA+||313||AA+||-12||-4%|
|16||24||West Ham United FC||England||209||AA||112||AA-||97||86%|
|20||15||FC Internazionale Milano||Italy||160||AAA-||152||AA+||7||5%|
|21||23||Aston Villa FC||England||155||AA||115||AA||40||35%|
|22||27||Newcastle United FC||England||155||AA||102||AA||53||52%|
|23||19||Club Atlético de Madrid||Spain||151||AA+||126||AAA-||24||19%|
|26||41||Stoke City FC||England||140||AA-||75||AA-||65||87%|
|28||22||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||Germany||135||AA||116||AA||19||16%|
|31||33||Olympique de Marseille||France||129||AA||91||AA||38||41%|
|37||42||West Bromwich Albion FC||England||115||AA||74||AA-||42||57%|
|43||48||São Paulo FC||Brazil||95||AA||54||A||40||74%|
|44||31||SV Werder Bremen||Germany||88||AA-||94||AA||-6||-6%|
|48||36||SC Corinthians Paulista||Brazil||79||AA||87||A||-8||-9%|
|49||44||SS Lazio SpA||Italy||78||AA||62||AA||16||27%|
Clubs Need Stars in the Boardroom as well as the Locker Room
Brand Finance CEO David Haigh comments, “Manchester United’s success has been masterminded by Ed Woodward, the Ronaldo of soccer’s commercial sphere. As Sir Alex Ferguson developed United’s world-beating reputation, Woodward (and United’s owners the Glazers) capitalised on the brand’s growing power to establish a worldwide fan-base and a range of sponsorship deals unrivalled in their number and value. The decision to list the club on the New York Stock Exchange in 2012 is further evidence of United’s commercial competency.” The focus on extracting value from the brand, combined with United’s on-pitch success in the recent past, has allowed Woodward to mitigate the impact of the last two seasons’ mediocre results.
Sponsors’ desire to be associated with the Man U brand appears undimmed. The current shirt deal with Chevrolet (£47 million per year) is worth more than double that with previous partner AON. In 2014 Nike decided to end its longstanding relationship with United, but rather than heralding a loss of faith amongst sponsors, it merely opened the door for another record-breaking agreement. Adidas will be Man U’s kit provider for the next 10 years in a deal worth £750 million ($1.1 billion). On an annual basis, this is more than triple the £23.5 million ($36 million) per year Nike had been paying.
Premier League Payday
Manchester United received another boost to its financial potency this year thanks to a record-breaking new deal for the broadcast rights of the 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 Premier League seasons. The deal is worth £5.1 billion ($7.8 billion) for the UK rights alone, closer to £9 billion ($14 billion) for the global rights, representing a 70% increase on the last round. The news saw Manchester United’s share price immediately jump 5%. The deal has been a boon to all Premier League clubs however. Each will receive close to £150 million ($230 million) a season, which has seen their brand values surge this year.
The Saints Go Marching On
Southampton is one of them and is this year’s fastest growing brand. The Saints’ brand value is up 89% to $183 million. However Southampton has been more than a passive beneficiary of booming broadcast revenues. Ronald Koeman has masterminded a 7th place finish that means a club facing administration in 2009 and playing in the third tier of the English game in 2010 can look forward to European soccer next season and the chance to build its own brand on the international stage.
West Ham Moves Onwards and Upwards
West Ham is another club to benefit from the windfall. The Hammers’ 86% growth means puts them in the top 20 for the first time, with a brand value of over $200 million. When the club moves home to London’s Olympic stadium it can look forward to further growth thanks to its increased profile and match-day attendance. Tara Warren, Executive Director, Marketing and Communications at West Ham comments “When Vice-Chairman Karren Brady arrived at West Ham five years ago, she instilled a belief that we could establish the club as a truly global brand. The re-brand that my team have executed over the past year showed that desire to create a more ambitious and successful future. Our focus now is on maximising the potential of our imminent move to our magnificent, 54,000-seat new stadium. West Ham will always honour and celebrate its great history, but today’s findings show that West Ham United is also fast becoming one of the most investable brands in world football.”
Juventus has just missed out on a place in the top ten after what was so nearly a perfect season. Victory in Serie A and the Coppa Italia made it a triumphant year for manager Massimiliano Allegri despite this weekend’s loss. On pitch success has been matched by lucrative commercial deals. Adidas will replace Nike as the club’s kit supplier in a €139.5 million deal, contributing to a 42% increase in brand value to $350 million. Juventus appears to have made a comprehensive recovery from the scandals that dogged the club a decade ago. The sale of a 48% stake in AC Milan to Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol suggests that global audiences and investors are beginning to see Serie A clubs as prospects that cannot be ignored. If Juventus continues to perform so well, in particular in Europe, prospects for further growth look good.
Unfortunately no MLS teams feature in the Brand Finance Football 50. Financial information is sparse and generally undisclosed, making robust, fair valuations impossible. MLS clubs are making great strides though. Mr Haigh continues, “The MLS is setting an example to leagues where soccer is still establishing its presence. It is no longer seen in Europe as the place where big names go to play out their last few games for big money. The City Football Group’s establishment of NYFC shows that the global soccer establishment are taking the MLS and its clubs seriously.”