Manchester United have been named the world’s most valuable football brand, according to a new analysis.
The Red Devils have endured two consecutive trophyless seasons but the club’s growing commercial clout has seen it leapfrog Bayern Munich and become the first billion dollar football brand.
The report, compiled by marketing experts Brand Finance, found that stellar signings, a return to the Champions League and the Premier League’s new TV deal, helped deliver a 63 per cent growth bringing United’s total brand value to $1.2 billion.
The club’s lucrative commercial deals signed with brands including Chevrolet and Adidas (worth a record £750m over ten years) are regarded as landmark agreements in global football.
Brand Finance chief executive David Haigh said: “Manchester United’s success has been masterminded by Ed Woodward, the Ronaldo of football’s commercial sphere.
“As Sir Alex Ferguson developed United’s world-beating reputation, Woodward -and United’s owners the Glazers – capitalised on the brand’s growing power to establish a worldwide fan-base and a range of sponsorship deals unrivalled in their number and value.” That focus on extracting value from the brand, combined with United’s footballing success in the recent past, has allowed Woodward to mitigate the impact of the last two seasons’ mediocre results.
The annual Brand Finance report named five other Premier League clubs in the top ten.
Cash-rich Manchester City are placed fourth on the list thanks to a rapidly-growing fanbase. The club has ‘diverse portfolio of partnerships’ including deals with Nissan in Japan and Etisalat in the UAE.
English champions Chelsea are the next highest Premier League side on the list positioned 5th. Their £40m a year deal signed with Japanese tyre-firm Yokohama reflects this growth in their brand value.
Brand Finance say that, despite the Blues’ domestic dominance this year, European trophies are ‘crucial’ to increase the club’s international worth going forward.
Arsenal are 7th on the list with Brand Finance assessing the club in a manner that might resonate with some supporters.
The report states: “Arsenal benefits from an affluent fan base that not only tolerates some of the highest ticket prices in the country, but a sustainable model which eschews jam today for the promise of tomorrow.”
Liverpool rank 8th with a band value of $577m – but Brand Finance warn that qualifying for the Champions League is a must in order for the Reds to move up the list.
Tottenham Hotspur are named 10th on the list with Brand Finance noting that the new stadium, due to open in 2018, will unlock the club’s potential and help Spurs hold on to their top players.
“Increased match-day revenue flows and stadium sponsorship rights should strengthen the already robust financial position. The move is a statement of ambition that should aid signing and, crucially, retention of two or three top class players.”