Manchester United remain the most valuable brand in world football, despite failing to win the Premier League for a fifth season in a row.
United's unrivalled commercial clout, a return to the Champions League and an improved season under Jose Mourinho in the league all combined to keep them top of the Brand Finance Football 50 list for a third consecutive year with a record value of $1.895m (£1.357m).
The nine per cent increase from last year's brand value of $1.733m meant United held off teams who have overshadowed them on the pitch this season. Premier League winners Manchester City and Champions League finalists Liverpool saw their brand value rise by 30 per cent and 33 per cent respectively to $1.331m (£953m) and $1.204m (£862m).
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Barcelona outmuscle Real Madrid
Yet United were beaten by both Barcelona and Real Madrid in a ranking of brand strength, as assessed by Brand Finance, the valuation and strategy consultancy.
Barcelona's runaway La Liga title triumph this season, lucrative new sponsorship deals with Rakuten and Nike, and fan growth in emerging football markets meant they leapfrogged arch rivals Real to take the mantle of the sport's strongest brand.
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Brand Finance calculates brand strength by looking into a club's brand equity; performance, global fanbase, heritage, their brand performance; key revenue streams such as gate receipts and TV income as well as brand investment, which includes online following and stadium capacity.
Barcelona this season renewed their kit partnership with Nike for a record $189m per year and signed a shirt sponsorship deal with Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten for $67m per year.
Premier League prowess
The global popularity of the Premier League is reflected by the presence of six of its current representatives in the top 10 of the brand value ranking and all but two among the top 50. Relegation-bound West Bromwich Albion and Stoke City were the only two sides to miss out.
Crystal Palace and Burnley enjoyed a 49 per cent and 57 per cent rise in brand value respectively, to $260m (£186m) and $230m (£166m). Southampton were the biggest fallers, dropping by 53 per cent to $132m (£95m).
"Although all member clubs benefit from strong broadcasting revenues and high levels of stadium utilisation, there is a huge gulf between the very top and the rest of the league," said Brand Finance chief executive Bryn Anderson.
"Furthermore, the reliance on broadcasting creates some vulnerability for the clubs and the challenge will be to successfully introduce a more balanced revenue mix in the future."