Manchester United have reclaimed their status as the club with the most valuable brand in world football despite a second consecutive turbulent season bereft of silverware.
Record-breaking commercial deals and the looming windfall from the Premier League’s next broadcast rights contract have lifted United back to the top of Brand Finance’s Football 50 list, published today.
In a show of faith in manager Louis van Gaal’s recent success in reversing the on-field decline, the Old Trafford side climbed two places to overtake Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
Neighbours Manchester City and Chelsea complete the top five, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham make the top 10, and there are a total of 17 English clubs in the top 50.
Barcelona, who won the Champions League on Saturday night, trail in sixth, while runners-up Juventus are behind Spurs in 11th.
Brand Finance, the leading international brand valuation and strategy consultancy, uses a wide range of factors to calculate both a club’s brand value and brand rating.
The brand rating reflects the image of the club, as the public would perceive it, and takes into account reputation, heritage, on-pitch performance, and how aware people are of them.
That brand rating is then combined with revenue, both current and projected, to estimate a brand value, which is of particular interest to the marketing and sponsorship industries.
United lost top spot in the list to Bayern in 2013 and dropped to third last year following a dismal first campaign without the all-conquering Sir Alex Ferguson as manager.
But a new £750m, 10-year kit deal with Adidas and the prospect of a three-year TV deal starting in 2016 worth more than £5bn in domestic rights alone sent their brand value rocketing by 63 per cent.
Allied with the return to the Champions League engineered by Van Gaal, the first football club brand value in excess of $1bn could in itself attract more business to United.
“It is reflective of a show of faith from sponsors,” Brand Finance’s Robert Haigh told City A.M. “It shows other interested parties that they are a club worth sticking with and still at the top of the game. It’s encouraging for investors too, so could affect share price in the short-term.”
Fellow European giants such as Bayern, Real and Barcelona are finding their progress checked by the relative lack of competition within their domestic leagues, the report notes.
Manchester City enjoyed another year of huge growth, their brand value rising 57 per cent to $800m (£482m). That placed them fourth in the list, one spot ahead of new Premier League champions Chelsea, whose brand value swelled by 58 per cent to $795m (£479m).
Seventh-placed Arsenal dropped a place despite seeing brand value soar 39 per cent to $703m (£423m). Liverpool, in eighth, experienced 23 per cent growth to $577m (£347m), placing them above Qatar-backed French champions Paris Saint-Germain. Tottenham’s brand value grew 47 per cent to $360m (£217m).