Wednesday, February 3, 1999 Published at 00:34 GMT
Reds in the black
The Deloitte & Touche figures have Man Utd out in front
Manchester United is the richest football club in the world, according to a survey.
The Old Trafford club earned £88m in the 1996-97 season, half as much again as the second richest, Barcelona.
The survey also highlights the dominance of commercial European football over the South American game which has only one club in the list. English Premiership and Italian Series A clubs dominate the top 20.
Manchester United's financial success is due largely to a worldwide fan base and to the record amounts of television money which have flooded into the English game.
Whereas Barcelona and third-placed Real Madrid rely on big crowds - averaging more than 80,000 each - for their main income, Manchester United earn more from commercial activites than gate receipts.
One Scottish club, Glasgow Rangers, makes it into the list - reflecting the club's careful business development over recent years.
Newcastle United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are the four other English clubs in the financial premiership.
The Gunners just scrape into last place at number 20, but Deloitte & Touche says it expects the north London club to rise up the chart next year when the 1997-98 double winning season will be taken into account.
Selling and scoring
Gerry Boon, from Deloitte and Touche, said football clubs need three things to prosper - a strong fan base, sound finances and professional commercial management.
"The Premiership and Series A clubs are showing the rest of the world how to fully exploit brand awareness and a large loyal customer base to full effect."
The figures were compared with those at the end of the 1997 season and wealth was based on a club's ability to generate income.
He said: "It is a mark of their success that they can sell replica shirts to kids in the Far East who probably don't even know where Manchester is, let alone have any realistic hope of visiting Old Trafford."
But traditionalists will prefer the Barcelona model. The club is still owned by its 105,000 members and such is the loyalty and spending power of Barca fans that the team wears shirts unadorned by a sponsor's logo.
The survey reveals that England, Spain and Italy - with clubs like Juventus and Milan - are the commercial powerhouses of the modern game.
South America, which has spawned some of the world's greatest national football teams, has only one club - Flamengo of Brazil - in the commercial top 20.
The world's financial top 20 clubs in full
Worth is in £000s, after the 1996-97 season.