Manchester United is football’s biggest moneymaker for the first time in 11 years 
Manchester United led by Wayne Rooney finished fifth last season and is now running sixth. AP 

LONDON — Manchester United is a long way from winning the English Premier League again but is back on top of another table — as soccer's biggest moneymaker.

For the first time since 2005, Manchester United overtook Real Madrid in top spot in the soccer finance rankings compiled by accountancy firm Deloitte even as it sits sixth in the Premier League.

In 2015-16 when United won only the FA Cup and failed to qualify for the Champions League, the 20-time league champions generated £515.3 million (€689 million based on the annual average; now about US$632 million).

Spanish champion Barcelona had €620.2 million in revenue and Real Madrid, which won an 11th Champions League title in May, dropped to third on €620.1 million in Deloitte's 20th annual rankings.

United's stay at the top could be short-lived with the pound weakening since Britain voted to leave the European Union in June and the failure to reach the Champions League.

Despite Jose Mourinho replacing Louis van Gaal as manager, United is struggling to break back into the top four Champions League qualification places let alone win the first Premier League title since Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013.

But United, owned by the Florida-based Glazer family and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, has maintained an ability to attract sponsors.

"Manchester United have had to wait 11 years to regain their position as the world's leading revenue-generating club and it has taken phenomenal commercial revenue growth to help them achieve this," said Dan Jones of the Deloitte sports division.

"In recent years, their ability to secure commercial partnerships with value in excess of that achievable by their peers has been the crucial factor in enabling the club to regain their place at the top of the Money League."

The top five is completed by German champion Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

The eight English clubs in the top 20 account for 45 percent of the accumulated revenue in the standings of €7.4 billion — up 13 percent from the previous year. Leicester, a first-time winner of the Premier League, makes the cut for the first time, squeezing into 20th place on £128.7 million.

West Ham returns to the top 20 and should move up from 18th place (£143.8 million) following its move last summer to Olympic Stadium.

The other Premier League teams are: Arsenal (seventh at £350.4 million), Chelsea (eighth at £334.6 million), Liverpool (ninth at £302 million) and Tottenham (12th at £209.2 million).

The weight of English clubs in the revenue rankings should increase next year with the rise in television revenue. Premier League clubs should each earn at least 100 million pounds a season as part of the rights deals worth more than £8.3 billion over three years.


The only French team represented in the rankings is Paris Saint-Germain, which fell two places to sixth with revenue of €520.9 million. Zenit Saint-Petersburg is the only Russian team included, improving a place to 17th by generating €196.5 million.

Along with Bayern, German also provides Borussia Dortmund (11th at €283.9 million) and Schalke (14th at €224.5 million).

Juventus heads the list of four Italian teams, in 10th place on €224.5 million, followed by AS Roma (15th at €218.2 million), AC Milan (16th at €214.7 million) and Inter Milan (19th at €179.2 million).

Deloitte warns that the enhanced English broadcast deals could see at least one of the Milan teams fall out of the top 20 next year.

Joining Barcelona and Real Madrid in the rankings from Spain are Atletico Madrid in 13th place at €228.6 million.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @spin_drin