The “beautiful game” as it’s known here in the UK, is by far the most popular spectator sport on the planet, with dedicated supporters following clubs from minor leagues to the best, most prestigious leagues, containing some of the most famous football clubs in the world.
But which sides make up the top 20 richest football clubs in the world?
There are various resources, each of which has issued its list of the top 20. They do not always agree. So, what we have done is use the findings of research carried out by Deloitte, one of the most respected and leading global providers of audit, assurance, consulting, financial and risk advisory, and tax services worldwide.
1. Manchester City – £731 million
EPL side Manchester City are top of the table in terms of the world’s richest club for the second time running. It culminates their rapid rise up the world football club rankings, a journey which saw them break into the top five richest clubs for the first time in 2015/16. Their growth has been underpinned by a rise in commercial revenue, which went up in 2021/22 by €65 million to a new Premier League record of €373 million.
The club seem to be going from strength to strength, and the addition last season of super-striker Erling Haaland, won’t do them any harm.
2. Real Madrid – £713.8 million
Real Madrid’s standing remains high in the table of the 20 richest football clubs in the world, thanks in part to their prowess in the UEFA Champions League year after year. However, they have been replaced in the number one slot in the 20022/3 season by Manchester City, who also defeated the La Liga club in the 2022/23 Champions League final – the biggest prize in world football club terms.
3. Liverpool – £701.7 million
In the 2021/2 season, Liverpool were close to achieving the perfect campaign. They won both the FA Cup and the league cup and also made it to the UEFA champions league final. They were also strong contenders in the EPL title race, only being narrowly beaten by Manchester City. Although Juergen Klopp’s team didn’t perform as well in the 2022/3 season, there is a high likelihood that, thanks to the quality of their players, they will bounce back, thereby maintaining a high place in the world’s richest club standings.
4. Manchester United – £688.6 million
Even though Manchester United saw a 23% increase in revenue worth some €130 million, from €558 million to €688.6 million, it is still well below their recent biggest financial tally, which was €712 million in 2019.
It has enabled rivals Manchester City to finish well above them in 2022 in pole position. However, with a strong run to the close of last season which saw them claim the 3rd position slot in the final EPL table, Champions League football will help to increase revenue again, providing they get through to the latter stages of the tournament.
5. Paris Saint-Germain – £654.2 million
Paris Saint-Germain might have finished at the top of the Ligue 1 table last season, but they couldn’t manage better than 5th position in the richest club stakes. Surprising in some ways when you consider the quality of their squad and the fact that France won the FIFA World Cup.
Despite all that, the revenue at €654.2 million, a rise of 18% and €102 million on the previous year, sees their revenue at an all-time high. But if Kylian Mbappe does transfer out, that could affect both PSG’s results on the field and the club’s revenue in the upcoming season.
6. Bayern Munich – £653.6 million
Bayern’s 6th place finish in the richest club ranking comes on the back of a 7% increase on the previous season’s revenue, taking them from €611.4 million to €653.6 million. However, it doesn’t quite match the club’s €660 million in 2019. Bayern have never adequately replaced Robert Lewandowski, but they are still champing at the bit, hoping to entice Harry Kane to join them. It could help to restore their financial fortunes should they succeed, although if Spurs let him go, it’s likely to cost Bayern close to €110 million.
7. FC Barcelona – £638.2 million
Spanish La Liga, side FC Barcelona, experienced one of the biggest falls in rankings as the club dropped from its previous 4th position down to 7th. A decline of 13% in terms of broadcast revenues, mostly due to the club’s underperformance in UEFA club competitions in comparison to previous years, was partly responsible. Competing in the UEFA club competition 2021/2022 as they dropped out of the UEFA Champions League group stage also has a bearing.
During this year, FCB also embarked on a multi-year agreement with Spotify regarding the men’s and women’s team shirts, the sponsorship of their training kits, and the naming rights for Camp Nou. We wait to see how this, plus the sale of FCB’s other economic components, such as the sale of 49.9% of the Barker licensing and merchandising company, together with 25% of its domestic La Liga rights over a 25-year span, affect FCB’s rankings in future editions of the Money League.
8. Chelsea – £568.3 million
Following the end of the Roman Abramovich era, Chelsea FC is still one of the richest football clubs in the world thanks to the takeover by the consortium led by the new owner Todd Boehly. One big advantage for Chelsea is that the new ownership group will not be suffering any of the sanctions previously bought about by the UK government with regard to Abramovich.
The new owners have said they will commit a further £1.75 billion in investment for the club’s benefits, including developments of Stamford Bridge, the Chelsea Academy, Kings Meadow, and the women’s team.
However, it remains to be seen, following Chelsea’s poor performance in the 2022 2023 season and with the lack of any European competition, how the falling gate money and the sale of Mason Mount, much loved by the supporters, will affect the teams standing in the upcoming season.
9. Tottenham Hotspur – £523 million
Tottenham Hotspur got the better of their north London rivals in 2022 by dint of beating the Gunners to a fourth-place finish and qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. Throughout the 2021/22 season, Daniel Levy spent €90.2 million on new player signings while netting €37.6 million from player sales.
With fortunes very much reversed in the 2022/23 season, Arsenal are likely to overtake Tottenham, although Tottenham’s new stadium will continue to provide new revenue from non-football sources. It’s partly the reason that Tottenham’s revenue increased by an enormous 29%, some €17.2 million.
10. Arsenal – £433.5 million
Arsenal entered the top 10 for the first time, replacing Juventus, who dropped 2 places from 9th to 11th. Arsenal’s rise was powered mostly by improved match-day revenue which, when compared to Juventus, was nearly 3 times that of the Italian Serie A club.
Arsenal’s improvement in the 20 richest clubs in the world standings is also due to a significant return on the investment they made into their Emirates Stadium. This will encourage other clubs, including FC Barcelona, Everton, the Italian Milanese clubs, and Real Madrid, all of whom are exploring such infrastructure changes to future-proof their businesses.
11. Juventus – £400.6 million
Juventus’ revenue has fallen significantly since the 2018/19 season. Back then, it was €460 million. The fall of over €60 million sees them drop to 11th on the world’s richest club listing. It’s partly due to the COVID-19 restrictions attendance-wise, and in the 2021/22 season the club’s poorer performances in UEFA club tournaments.
12. Atlético de Madrid – £393.9 million
Although Atlético are in the bottom 10 of the top 20 list of the richest clubs in the world, their 18% year-to-year rise in revenue is impressive, regardless of the fact they are always overshadowed by Madrid city rivals Real, who only managed a 7% increase on the previous year’s revenue.
13. Borussia Dortmund – £356.9 million
Borussia Dortmund are much like Atletico Madrid in as much as they too are overshadowed by rivals, in their case, Bayern, not from the same city, but from the same league. Dortmund’s revenue only increased by 7%, the same as Bayern’s. They are the only other German team to make the top 20 richest club table.
14. Internazionale Milano – £308.4 million
Internazionale experienced a 7% drop in revenue at the end of the 2021/22 season, a season that saw them finish 3rd in Series A for the 7th time in the last 10 years. They finished top in the 2021/2022 season but were unable to keep up the improvement reverting once more to a third-place finish in the 2022/2023 season.
15. West Ham United – £301.2 million
West Ham may seem a surprising entry on the list above the likes of European giants AC Milan but they have a large stadium and have had some great seasons recently under David Moyes, just recently lifting their first ever European trophy.
The rest of the top 20 is as follows:
16 AC Milan £264.9 million
17 Leicester City £252.2 million
18 Leeds United £223.4 million
19 Everton £213.7 million
20 Newcastle United £212.3 million
The Power of the Premier League
What is noticeable about this list?
Yes – It is dominated by Premier League teams and in the last 6 positions completing the world’s top 20 richest football clubs, 5 are teams from the English Premier League. 3 of the 5 are not even highly ranked in terms of EPL standings. In fact, Leeds United have lost their EPL status at the end of the 2022/3 season and will play in the Championship next season along with also relegated Leicester City. Meanwhile, 19th-ranked Everton only narrowly avoided relegation.
In the next 2- or 3-years, the superiority of EPL clubs is unlikely to be challenged as it is the richest league on planet football. Depending on where teams finish in the EPL table, there is a lot of reward money up for grabs – £2.2 million per final resting place.
It will see Manchester City walk away with over €52 million, Arsenal with over €50 million, Manchester Unite with €47 million, and Newcastle with over €44 million. The 2022/23 season’s richest football club standings should make for some very interesting reading.