As we have in the past, we thought we might take a few minutes to discuss Forbes' latest soccer rich list. The top five of this list of most valuable teams is predictably composed of the European elite of Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Arsenal and Bayern Munich. Mike Ozanian, the author of the piece, dutifully points out that Forbes' $2.24 billion valuation of the Red Devils makes them the most valuable team in all of sports, outpacing baseball's New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL by at least $385 million each.
As fans might be able to tell you the rich of soccer always seem to be getting richer. This is most evident in Europe, from where all the top twenty clubs hail. There, the Champions League competition, with worldwide broadcasting deals, provides a boon for participants. As revenue from the competition grows the further teams make it, it is often the biggest clubs which receive the biggest payouts, allowing them to remain the biggest clubs in a self-perpetuating cycle. Even the second-tier Europa league can be a nice source of revenue for clubs, most of whom believe that the money they make in that competition could provide the funds for the signing or two it might take to get them to the big show.
If you would like more than the photo gallery version of the who's who of wealthy clubs, I would suggest taking a look at this report from Deloitte, which provided much of the source material for the Forbes list. It has insights on what sources drive revenue for the big clubs as well as analysis on teams outside the Big 5 European leagues. And, not to fear; despite treating soccer like the business it is, utilizing a plethora of charts and tables, the folks at Deloitte were sensible enough to not dispense with the use of pictures (though using Berbatov to represent United is a bit short-sighted if my inside sources are right...).