Real Madrid overtakes Barça to become the strongest football brand in the world

According to Brand Finance, Real Madrid is now the strongest brand in the football world, while Manchester United remains the most valuable. Almost half of the total football brand value is in the Premier League.


The valuation and consultancy firm Brand Finance conducts an annual study to calculate the strength and value of the world's leading football club brands. Brand strength is calculated based on factors such as performance on the pitch, team value, fair play rating, fan satisfaction, stadium capacity and utility value or social media presence. This is used to create the Brand Strength Index (BSI) score from 0 to 100. According to the press release, the "Brand Finance Football 50" study is the first of its kind to take into account the sporting results of the 2016/17 season.

The 50 most valuable football brands Brand Finance Football 50
2017 2016 Association Value 2017 (in million $) Value 2016 (in million $)
1 1 Manchester United 1,733 1,170
2 2 Real Madrid 1,419 1,148
3 3 FC Barcelona 1,418 993
4 8 Chelsea 1,248 776
5 5 Bayern Munich 1,222 867
6 4 Manchester City 1,021 905
7 7 Paris Saint-Germain 1,011 792
8 6 Arsenal 941 858
9 9 Liverpool 908 748
10 10 Tottenham Hotspur 696 441
11 11 Borussia Dortmund 519 371
12 13 Juventus 492 287
13 16 Everton 360 279
14 14 Schalke 04 338 282
15 12 Bayer Leverkusen 332 290
16 18 Atlético de Madrid 324 266
17 17 West Ham United 303 274
18 22 AC Milan 286 207
19 20 Southampton 281 223
20 19 Leicester City 257 237
21 15 VfL Wolfsburg 256 280
22 33 Newcastle United 247 129
23 21 Stoke City FC 227 212
24 26 Swansea City 226 175
25 23 West Bromwich Albion FC 222 184
26 Bournemouth FC 220
27 30 Olympique Lyonnais 218 138
28 29 FC Internazionale Milano 217 151
29 27 Borussia Mönchengladbach 208 173
30 1899 Hoffenheim 194
31 31 AS Roma 180 131
32 37 SSC Napoli 177 118
33 25 Crystal Palace 175 176
34 46 VFB Stuttgart 171 95
35 34 AS Monaco 170 124
36 32 Olympique de Marseille 164 129
37 28 Hamburg SV 163 152
38 1.FC Cologne 162
39 35 Hertha BSC Berlin 159 123
40 42 Werder Bremen 155 110
41 FC Zenit St Petersburg 154
42 36 Athletic de Bilbao 154 123
43 43 Villarreal 152 110
44 Burnley 148
45 RasenBallsport Leipzig 145
46 50 Watford 144 91
47 38 Ajax 144 116
48 48 Valencia CF 144 93
49 Eintracht Frankfurt 140
50 40 Sevilla FC 140

Real overtakes Barcelona

Real Madrid's outstanding season has enabled the club to overtake rivals Barcelona to become the world's strongest football club brand. The brand strengths of both clubs are unique in the world. The fierce rivalry of El Clasico, their dominance on the European stage and their footballing styles, which are both beautiful and effective, allow them to create brands unmatched by German, French, English or Italian rivals. Real's brand strength increases from 94.6 in 2016 to 96.1 in 2017, after another La Liga title and a record twelfth Champions League title. Barcelona "only" achieved 95.4 points and therefore had to let their arch-rivals pass them by.

Manchester United remains the most valuable

The value of the Real Madrid brand, on the other hand, is still lower than that of Manchester United. Manchester United remains the most valuable football brand, despite its disappointing sixth place in the Premier League. Value: 1.733 billion US dollars. According to the study, the brand value of Real Madrid is 1.419 billion US dollars.

According to the authors of the study, United's success is partly the result of a lasting halo effect - a kind of perception error - from the good old days under Alex Ferguson. What is crucial, however, is the commercial spirit of the club and its ability to translate its success into lucrative contracts.

Real could also perform significantly better in growth markets outside Europe. Real is popular in some markets, such as the Middle East. However, brand finance research in the large, important Chinese market shows that Real still has a lot of work to do. In China, Real not only lags behind Manchester United, but also Bayern Munich in terms of popularity.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, explains: "The new status as the strongest football brand in the world should provide Real Madrid with a strong argument in the current renegotiations with Emirates over shirt sponsorship. This is an opportunity the club cannot afford to miss."

Bayern Munich is strong in China

Bayern Munich retains its third position as the strongest and fifth position as the most valuable football brand in the world. The club is so dominant locally that it has to earn its glory on the international stage. 2017 was a rather mediocre season in this respect.

Bayern, on the other hand, is making great strides in terms of brand value off the pitch. The club is trying to compensate for financial differences to its European competitors by investing in China. Bayern was the first European football club to open a branch in China. Bayern also launched two football schools in Qingdao and Shenzhen this year, increasing the familiarity of the brand among young players. Major investments were also made in social media activities. Bayern's hard work is paying off. Brand Finance shows that the club has a strong presence in China. The Bundesliga was the most-watched foreign sports competition in China after the Premier League.

Premier League powerful thanks to TV revenues

Premier League clubs lead the world when it comes to brand marketing: six of the top most valuable football brands come from England. Title rivals Chelsea and Tottenham are making strong gains after a successful season. Chelsea are making significant commercial gains thanks to a reported £900 million deal over 15 years with Nike, as well as an almost 50 percent increase in capacity at their home stadium, Stamford Bridge. Tottenham are also expanding their stadium: the new White Hart Lane has been innovatively designed and will offer 61,000 spectators the opportunity to watch Spurs at the stadium. Tottenham's brand value increased by 58% compared to the previous year, while Chelsea's rose by as much as 61% to 1.248 billion dollars.

All Premier League clubs continue to benefit from the huge revenue generated by Sky and BT's TV rights. The relatively equitable split is particularly helpful for smaller clubs and explains how a club like Bournemouth (who joined the Premier League two years ago and hail from a town with a population of just 180,000) is a more valuable brand than much longer established top European clubs such as Olympique Lyonnais, Inter Milan and AS Roma. The costs are correspondingly high when a club is not in the Premier League. Another season in the second-highest division, the Championship, for Aston Villa and the relegation of Sunderland are reflected in this year's list.

Sunderland's loss was Newcastle United's gain. The club became Championship champions this season and was promoted to the Premier League. As a result, the brand value increased by 92 percent to 247 million dollars. Newcastle is the fastest growing brand this year.

Juve strong, but with room for improvement

Juventus Turin's Serie A championship title and successful Champions League season put the Italian club in the top 5 of the brand strength ranking. The brand value has also increased significantly, growing by 72 percent compared to the previous year. However, Juventus Turin - like Real Madrid - has not sufficiently utilized the strength of its own brand for commercial purposes, according to the authors of the study.

Zenit St. Petersburg is the only Russian club in the top 50, with main sponsor Gazprom accounting for 168 million US dollars in revenue and thus a significantly higher brand value than the two big Moscow clubs CSKA and Spartak. The soon-to-be-opened Krestovsky Stadium will give Zenit an additional boost: The capacity of 68,000 spectators is over 50 percent higher than any other Russian club arena. This will lead to higher matchday revenue and improved brand value. The stadium will be a key venue at the next FIFA World Cup. (pd/hae)

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