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Brand power: Football's most valuable clubs unveiled

By Tom McGowan, CNN
updated 10:54 AM EDT, Tue May 22, 2012
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.
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  • 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."

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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."

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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)

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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%


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