By Bill Wilson
Business reporter, BBC News
Real Madrid and other large clubs can rely on continued fan loyalty, Deloitte says
Real Madrid have topped the league table of the world's richest football clubs for the fifth straight year, according to Deloitte's sport unit.
Its Football Money League, based on data for season 2008/09, also says Real are the first global sports team to see annual revenues top 400m euros (£357m).
Real's arch-rivals Barcelona have taken second spot in the list, ahead of Manchester United who drop to third.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.
The authors said that United would have been top of the Money League if the pound was still at June 2007 levels.
But they point out that, despite exchange rate issues, seven of the top 20 in its table are from England, the other three being Tottenham (15th), Manchester City(19th), and relegated club Newcastle United (20th).
All the 20 clubs represented are from the "big five" European leagues, with Germany contributing five clubs, Italy four, and France and Spain two each.
Real retained top position despite a disappointing season, coming second in La Liga and exiting the Champions League at the Round of 16 stage.
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But they were boosted by a much-improved television contract with Mediapro, guaranteeing the club more than 1.1bn euros over seven seasons.
Arch-rivals Barcelona had a hugely successful season, winning La Liga and the Champions League - beating Manchester United, who won the English Premier League in 2008/09, in the final.
"We continue to assert that the game's top clubs are well placed to meet the challenges presented by the difficult economic environment," said Deloitte's Dan Jones, who compiled the report.
"Their large and loyal supporter bases, ability to drive broadcast audiences, and continuing attraction to corporate partners, provide a strong base to underpin revenues."
He said that this was shown by the fact that the combined revenues of the top 20 Money League clubs was over 3.9bn euros in 2008/09, up 26m euros on the previous year.
And the majority of Money League clubs maintained average match attendances when comparing 2008/09 with 2007/08.
There was not a great deal of movement in the top 20, with two new clubs - Werder Bremen and Manchester City - replacing VfB Stuttgart and Fenerbahce.
WEALTHIEST CLUBS BY REVENUE
1) Real Madrid: 401.4m euros
2) Barcelona: 365.9m euros
3) Man Utd: 327m euros
4) Bayern Munich: 289.5m euros
5) Arsenal: 263m euros
6) Chelsea: 242.3m
7) Liverpool: 217m euros
8) Juventus: 202.3m euros
9) Inter Milan 196.5m euros
10) AC Milan: 196.5.m euros
Source: Deloitte: 2008/09
Mr Jones said the limited change "reflects the fact that those clubs with the largest supporter bases in strongest economic markets, high attraction to commercial partners, and consistent participation in European competition, will dominate the top positions".
However, there were warnings that many clubs now face "increased pressure on ticket pricing strategies and all clubs will continue to face challenges in managing match day" returns.
And the report also points out that the current season, 2009/10, will offer clarification about whether the global recession has had a major impact on clubs' revenues.
The Deloitte review does not include the cost of transfer fees or player wages, or VAT and other sales taxes, and concentrates solely on day-to-day income from football business.
Income includes money from ticket sales, sponsorship, merchandising and other commercial revenues, television monies, corporate hospitality, and non-match day stadium use such as for conferences.
The list had been headed by Manchester United for eight years until Real Madrid deposed them.