Skip to main content

Brand power: Football's most valuable clubs unveiled

By Tom McGowan, CNN
May 22, 2012 -- Updated 1454 GMT (2254 HKT)
Manchester United is the most valuable brand in football according to a report by independent consultancy Brand Finance. The global appeal and on-field success of the 19-time English champions has helped establish a brand worth an estimated $853 million. Manchester United is the most valuable brand in football according to a report by independent consultancy Brand Finance. The global appeal and on-field success of the 19-time English champions has helped establish a brand worth an estimated $853 million.
Manchester's money machine
Silver lining
Cuts for 'El Clasico'
Champions cash in
City slickers
A major league?
  • Manchester United again named football's most valuable brand
  • The 19-time English champions are worth a reported $853 million
  • Germany's Bayern Munich second on the list, worth an estimated $786 million
  • Spanish rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona both see small decreases in brand value

(CNN) -- Bayern Munich might be licking their wounds after defeat in the European Champions League final, but the German club can find comfort in victory of a different kind: by beating Chelsea in football's financial league table.

Despite Saturday's crushing penalty shootout loss to the English side in their own backyard at the the Allianz Arena, the Bavarians have been ranked as the second most valuable brand in football.

According to a new report by independent consultancy Brand Finance, which has compiled a list of the 50 biggest brands in the sport, the four-time European champions have been valued at $786 million.

Chelsea, by comparison, made fifth place with a value of $398 million.

But English giants Manchester United lead the way, as in 2011, with a brand estimated to be worth $853 million.

"Manchester United have got a global reach," Brand Finance's head of sports brands Dave Chattaway told CNN.

Click here to see football's top 10 brands

"United have got quite a professional setup, with people who have worked for Pepsi, Disney, all different kinds of marketing industries. They have brought their expertise into the sports industry."

Champions League round up
Chelsea player: Win feels incredible
Blues cheer Chelsea triumph
Fans celebrate Chelsea win

But Bayern are the year's big winners.

Despite the defeat by Chelsea and having been beaten to the German league and cup by Borussia Dortmund, the club's brand value grew by 59% over the last 12 months.

"If you look at Bayern Munich, they are a domestic powerhouse," said Chattaway.

"They have got really strong links with strong German brands.

"Bayern have long-term deals, they have been with Adidas for over 10 years. They generate the highest commercial revenue and they are able to negotiate the highest possible deals based on their dominance of the German market."

Munich mourns as Bayern blow big chance

Behind United and Bayern are the Spanish "El Clasico" rivals of Real Madrid, third with a value of $600 million, and Barcelona, with a brand worth $580 million.

Spanish champions Real and 2011 European champions Barca have seen similar decreases in the value of their brands, 7% and 8% respectively, which Chattaway puts down to the country's current economic plight.

"They have both had relatively successful years on the pitch," he said.

"The eurozone crisis has really impacted the capital in Spain and Italy. It's not necessarily something they are doing wrong commercially, it's a sign of the economy they operate in."

The top 10 is dominated by teams from the English Premier League, with United and Chelsea followed by 2011-12 title winners Manchester City in eighth ($302 million)

Torres unsure of Chelsea future

Within Europe, the Premier League is still the pinnacle, it still generates the most money because of the broadcast rights
Dave Chattaway, Brand Finance

"Within Europe, the Premier League is still the pinnacle," explained Chattaway. "It still generates the most money because of the broadcast rights.

"It is much more attractive to a foreign audience than the German Bundesliga or the Spanish First Division. The Premier League clubs are benefiting from that."

Italian Cup winners Napoli ($85 million) were the only Serie A club to increase brand value, coming off the back of a relatively successful Champions League campaign, to be 22nd overall.

AC Milan ($292 million) placed ninth on the list after winning the title in 2010-11, while this season's champions Juventus ($160 million) fell from 10th in 2011 to 16th this year.

Former England captain David Beckham and his Los Angeles Galaxy teammates enjoyed a landmark year in 2011, being crowned Major League Soccer champions for a third time.

Despite their success, and despite boasting one of football's most recognizable and marketable stars, the Galaxy ($46 million) only crept onto the list in 50th position.

"The game in the U.S. is still developing massively," said Chattaway.

"The revenues are a fraction of those in Europe. The games are rarely sold out and the grounds themselves have quite a small capacity.

"The commercial deals in the U.S. cannot compete with the European market. The MLS is still largely only shown in the U.S., it hasn't really expanded globally as quickly as we would have expected."

With such a huge gap between the sport's most lucrative brands and those with less commercial appeal, are football clubs making the most of their financial potential?

"I think there is more scope for all the clubs to further maximize value -- clubs have traditionally been slow and unimaginative in monetizing the brand they own," Chattaway said.

"There is scope for football clubs to learn from U.S. sports marketing practices.

"The clubs need to better understand the brand asset that they own so that they can ensure they get the right returns on all commercial deals."

The list took into account various revenue streams for clubs, such as ticket sales, merchandising, sponsorship deals and money received from the sale of broadcasting rights.

Rank 2012 Rank 2011 Club League Brand value (US$ M) Brand rating 2012 % change in value
1 1 Manchester United FC Barclays Premier League 853 AAA+ 29%
2 4 FC Bayern München Fußball-Bundesliga 786 AAA 59%
3 2 Real Madrid CF BBVA Liga 600 AAA+ -7%
4 3 FC Barcelona BBVA Liga 580 AAA+ -8%
5 5 Chelsea FC Barclays Premier League 398 AA- 27%
6 6 Arsenal FC Barclays Premier League 388 AA- 29%
7 9 Liverpool FC Barclays Premier League 367 AA- 47%
8 11 Manchester City FC Barclays Premier League 302 BBB+ 77%
9 7 AC Milan Serie A TIM 292 AA+ 7%
10 12 FC Schalke 04 Fußball-Bundesliga 266 BBB+ 97%


Part of complete coverage on
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1328 GMT (2128 HKT)
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is provoking huge media interest and the hungry attention of Europe's top clubs.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Last season Jose Mourinho wrote off the title of hopes of his "little horse" -- but now he has a squad primed to dethrone Manchester City.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1858 GMT (0258 HKT)
Luis Suarez will have to wait until late October to make his competitive Barcelona debut his ban for biting an opponent was partially upheld.
August 14, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
Can Louis van Gaal cut it at Manchester United? Will Bayern conquer all in Germany? Is this PSG's year to win the Champions League?
August 7, 2014 -- Updated 1012 GMT (1812 HKT)
It's been a difficult year for Barcelona on and off the pitch, and the signing of Luis Suarez has only increased the prospect of more controversy.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Germany striker Miroslav Klose, who scored a total of 16 goals at four World Cup finals, has announced his retirement from international football.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 1145 GMT (1945 HKT)
Cultural y Deportivo Leonesa line up in their tuxedo kit.
When celebrating an important anniversary, it's always good to look your best. At least that's theory for a Spanish football team's preseason tuxedo kit.
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 1103 GMT (1903 HKT)
While many top European clubs are targeting the U.S. market, French football is setting its sights on expanding into Asia -- with China playing a key role.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Major League Soccer has snared another big name from England with former Chelsea star Frank Lampard committing his future to New York City FC.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
Europe's top clubs have booked a summer holiday to the U.S. -- but this is business not pleasure as they look to cash in on the World Cup afterglow.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Brazil's new coach Dunga won the World Cup as a player in 1994.
Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is appointed coach of Brazil's national team for the second time, charged with restoring national pride.
July 22, 2014 -- Updated 1420 GMT (2220 HKT)
Colombia's World Cup star James Rodriguez continues Real Madrid's long tradition of signing "Galacticos."
July 21, 2014 -- Updated 1007 GMT (1807 HKT)
Germany's World Cup-winning captain Philipp Lahm has decided to go out at the top by announcing his retirement from international football.