BrandFinance® Football 50: No trophies but Man United are still Brand Champions


• Champion’s League triumph secures another season in Europe for Chelsea but despite two trophies the club stays 5th due to a poor Premier League performance.

• Man City is steadily climbing up the rankings, placing 8th this year, but despite nearly $1.5bn of investment and a title win, it cannot yet challenge United’s accumulated brand equity.

• Despite disappointment in the Champion’s League final, Bayern Munich enjoys this year’s strongest growth, with a $293m increase in brand value that sees it take 2nd place from Real Madrid.

• The two Spanish giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid, have been afflicted by the state of their domestic economy, with unemployment hitting gate receipts and other revenue streams.

• A weak domestic economy has hit Italian clubs too, with all but Napoli falling this year.

Man United have put in a solid premier league performance this season, narrowly missing out on their 20th title after a nail-biting end to the season. Income from TV rights, gate receipts and merchandise all remain strong, providing broad revenue base that spreads risk better than most clubs. Man United has huge and long-standing international appeal and is perhaps the most recognised football club brand worldwide, with vast accumulated brand equity. However after a season without any silverware, they cannot afford to rest on their laurels.

Shrewd commercial management and commanding Champions League performances by Bayern Munich could see United unseated from the top spot of the  BrandFinance® Football 50 in the near future. Meanwhile the huge investment in local rivals Manchester City has finally yielded a Premier League victory. As Sir Alex Ferguson reaches the end of his career and with the Glazers still paying off debts the club may struggle to maintain the squad they need to stay at the top. The huge investment by Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi, estimated at $1.5bn, is beginning to pay off for City. They have matched United on the field and though still in their shadow in terms of Brand value, they are catching up rapidly. At $302m, the Man City brand is worth nearly double what it was in 2011.

There’s some consolation for Bayern Munich who are this year’s big winners in terms of brand value, overtaking Barcelona and Real Madrid after posting a value just short of US $ 800 million, despite losing out to Chelsea. Their success in Germany and presence in the final of the Champion’s League has been bolstered by financial nous. In contrast to Manchester United’s international appeal, Bayern have focused on their domestic market. This strategy has evidently paid off, as Bayern has the highest commercial revenues of any club at $254m. “However Bayern need to start building their brand in emerging markets or they will be left behind by relying too heavily on their domestic fan base’’ commented Matt Hannagan, Sports Brand Valuation Analyst.

Italian and Spanish clubs fared badly this year, afflicted by the economic turmoil in their home markets. Real Madrid and Barcelona suffered falls in brand value, with Barcelona’s dropping from $629m last year to $580m in 2012. Attendances are down due to high unemployment and uncertainty. Clubs in both countries must continue to look abroad for a steady stream of commercial and broadcasting revenues, capitalising on strong brands.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commenting on the table stated: “This year’s study shows that even football isn’t immune to the Euro Crisis, with Spanish and Italian teams being hit hardest. The two top teams operate different marketing strategies, Bayern prioritising its domestic fan base whilst United concentrate on global opportunities.”

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