Not quite Real Madrid, not quite Barcelona. But better than Swansea and Stoke

John McCormick:
John McCormick. we’ve come a long way, some way yet to go.

It’s been a few years since I’ve done a timely review of Deloitte’s “Money League”, which usually comes out in January or February (it was January this year).

But when there’s a battle to be fought there’s not much room, time or inclination to give some thought to a little piece of meaningless self-publicity, which is what the Deloitte Money League is, entertaining though it may be.

But now the battle’s won there’s a gap that needs to be filled and the Euros just aren’t doing it on their own. So I’ve searched through my downloads folder and resurrected this year’s Deloitte report to see if we’ve made any progress since 2015.

And we have.

We’re not in the Deloitte Money League itself, which refers to the top 20 revenue generating clubs in the world, and haven’t been for many years, but we’re now established in Deloitte’s second tier and rising in the ranks.  In 2015 we reached number 27, with revenues of €124 million. The 2016 report saw an improvement, with revenues of €133 million and a rise to 25th place even though we had a poor season.

So far, so good, you might think, but you might also remember that I said a lot of Premiership clubs would be rising along with us, and so they have. What’s more, another three Premiership  clubs have arrived, one of which, Leicester City, has already surpassed us – and that’s before winning the Premiership or embarking on a European adventure. There are now 17 premiership clubs in the top 30. Five of them (Man Utd, Man City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool) are in the top ten and another four – Spurs, NUFC, Everton and West Ham – are in the 11-20 rankings. West Ham got there through growing their revenue by about 30 million euros, which enabled them to overtake Galatasaray and take 20th place.

For us 2014-2015 was a season of survival and finishing near the bottom of the Premiership doesn’t do much for merit money, although it’s a sight better than the alternative. But it means that any clubs with half-decent support and a higher position can pass us on Deloitte’s list, and will do so more and more easily as the financial rewards of staying up increase. The impact of merit payments can be seen in Swansea, who arrived in the Deloitte top thirty in 2015 with €118million and 29th place. This year they are in 26th place – one place and €0.1 million behind us. Or consider Crystal Palace or West Brom, both new arrivals, both grossing more this year than we did in 2015:

Premiership teams in Deloitte’s second tier:

2015 revenue





21 West Ham United

22 Aston Villa

25 Southampton

27 Sunderland

29 Swansea City

30 Stoke City







22 Southampton

23 Aston Villa

24 Leicester City

25 Sunderland

26 Swansea City

27 Stoke City

28 Crystal Palace

29 West Bromwich Albion









Deloitte reported that the ratio of the three principal revenue streams remained broadly consistent with clubs generating 19% of their revenue from matchday sources, 40% from broadcast and 41% from commercial sources. However, the Premier League is different. Arsenal generates 30% of its income from matchday sources, thanks to London prices for a 60,000 capacity stadium and Man Utd makes about half of its money from sponsorship and commercial activity but those kinds of figures are quite exceptional and TV is king. Newcastle Utd, for example, generated 60% of its revenue from broadcast rights and Everton almost 70%. With a new TV deal in the offing things can only get better for Premiership clubs and it will be interesting to see what happens over the next couple of years.

Riches beckon at the King Power stadium
Riches beckon at the King Power stadium

Before then,  Leicester will surely show the biggest increase in revenue. I’d expect them to be one of the biggest risers on the back of an exceptional 2015-16.  However, in absolute terms they won’t catch Real Madrid, Barcelona and Man Utd.  The first two have permanent Champions League qualification and also take the lion’s share of Spanish TV money. Man Utd have commercial deals that the rest of us can only dream about.

Deloitte did express the possibility that Man Utd, on the back of Champions League qualification, TV money and some new commercial deals, might surpass both Real Madrid and Barcelona to claim the top spot. I wonder. Man Utd didn’t do well in Europe and failed to make the big time last season so even if they do get to the top of Deloitte’s League I suspect it will be temporary.

The new stand at Anfield. Aimed at the corporate pound
The new stand at Anfield. Aimed at the corporate pound

The improved TV deals make it likely that the other Premiership clubs in the top 10 will rise but it’s not a clear picture. Arsenal have their stadium and European qualification, as do Man City, but Chelsea missed out on Europe this season and their new stadium’s still nothing more than a plan, so they could drop a place or two (from 8th), especially as Liverpool are hard on their heels in 9th. Liverpool might never regain their European hegemony but will at least will benefit from a redeveloped and larger Anfield stadium before too long.

Spurs, currently in 12th place, should join the top 10 over the next couple of seasons. They have improved their league position and have now qualified for the Champions League. That means they’re in line for a lot more money, and after that they’ll be generating more revenue through their new 61,000 seater stadium.

It’s not so clear for Everton. Increased TV money should ensure they stay in the top 20 and will probably mean they rise above their current 17th place but Goodison severely restricts them and there’s no new stadium in sight. Nor are they likely to do much in Europe in the next couple of years

West Ham are emulating Spurs, but on a slightly lower level. They too have a new stadium (we bought it for them) and will be in it in time for their European adventure, on top of which they won’t do too badly from merit payments. They should  consolidate their status as a top 20 club with ease.

In fact, all premiership clubs won’t do too badly from merit payments and new deals. They will be sharing some £8 billion and it’s estimated every club will benefit by at least £35 million. With that kind of money even the relative minnows could rise above clubs from other leagues. With merit payments on top Premiership clubs with smaller crowds  but higher league positions than us, e.g. Swansea or Stoke, could also pass us, at least in the short term.

filling up nicely
filling up nicely

But we do have a good size ground, and we do fill it consistently. So two years from now, with a decent 2016-17 under Sam, and NUFC (destined to lose 16th spot) and Aston Villa replaced by smaller clubs,  we could find we’re in the Deloitte Money League as one of the world’s top 20 revenue generators.

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