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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.

Murdoch's big match
The research by accountants Deloitte & Touche and the football magazine FourFourTwo to find the game's financial "top 20" clubs placed United first by a huge margin.

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.

Takeover target

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.

[ image: Man United has been the most successful English club of the 90s]
Man United has been the most successful English club of the 90s
The club is the target of a £620m takeover bid by Rupert Murdoch and the survey says it is probably the most valuable franchise in world sport.

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.

[ image: Arsenal's 1998 League and FA Cup Double should put them up the table next year]
Arsenal's 1998 League and FA Cup Double should put them up the table next year
FourFourTwo Editor Matt Tench believes Manchester United's selling ability puts them top.

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.

  1. Manchester United - England - 87,939
  2. Barcelona - Spain - 58,862
  3. Real Madrid - Spain - 55,659
  4. Juventus - Italy - 53,223
  5. Bayern Munich - Germany - 51, 619
  6. Milan - Italy - 47,480
  7. Borussia Dortmund - Germany - 42,199
  8. Newcastle United - England - 41,134
  9. Liverpool - England - 39,153
  10. Internazionale - Italy - 39,071
  11. Flamengo - Brazil - 37,422
  12. Atletico Madrid - Spain - 32,382
  13. Paris St Germain - France - 31,967
  14. Rangers - Scotland - 31,644
  15. Roma - Italy - 28,215
  16. Tottenham Hotspur - England - 27,874
  17. Ajax - Netherlands - 27,804
  18. Parma - Italy - 27,756
  19. Lazio - Italy - 27,332
  20. Arsenal - England - 27,158

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