- Indian football fans have higher awareness of English Premier League and Championship than other major European leagues, according to original research by Brand Finance.
- Valued at almost USD 1.9 billion, Manchester United remain the world’s most valuable football club brand.
- Barcelona, who won their 25th La Liga title this season, are back in possession of football’s strongest brand, reclaiming the top position they lost to Real last year.
- Testament to their commercial prowess, Premier League (18) and Bundesliga (13) field 31 clubs in the Brand Finance Football 50 ranking.
The English Premier League is dominating the contest for the hearts and minds of Indian football fans, according to the latest report by Brand Finance, the world’s leading independent brand valuation and strategy consultancy. Brand Finance’s original market research, conducted on a representative sample of 2,000 respondents, found that of the world’s major football leagues Indian fans have the greatest awareness of the English Premier League at 79%.
Further cementing the dominance of English football, the second-most familiar league was the EFL Championship, the second tier of the English association football system. The Championship earned 57% awareness, just ahead of Spain’s top flight league, La Liga, in third with 56%. This may be due to significant Indian ownership interests in two Championship teams, Barsley and Queens Park Rangers. Next season, they will be joined by Blackburn Rovers, which is also owned by Indian investors, and which has just earned promotion back to the Championship.
In addition to the English Premier League being the most popular football league in India, Manchester United is the most popular club, with 21% of Indians nominating it as their favourite club, ahead of FC Barcelona in second with 17% and Real Madrid in third with 11%. Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City were all rated highly by Indian fans too, so although the Spanish league has popularity heavily concentrated in just two clubs, the English league has a number of clubs with significant Indian fan bases.
Bryn Anderson, Director at Brand Finance, commented:
“The English Premier League is clearly the leading football competition in the eyes of Indian consumers. The Premier League has built a remarkably strong brand, despite relatively little involvement of Indian players in the competition.”
Manchester United has retained its title as the world’s most valuable football brand, according to the latest Brand Finance Football 50 report. Placed at the head of the table again this year, United’s brand value of USD 1,895 million is more than USD 300 million higher than that of either Real Madrid or Barcelona FC.
With impressive revenue streams and continued success on the field, Manchester United’s brand value increased by 9% year on year since 2017. The club’s brand strength also grew, by 3%. After last year’s exile in the UEFA Europa League, United’s brand strength was enhanced by two trophies and a return to the Champions League this season. Like all Premier League clubs, United benefit from extraordinary broadcasting revenues, but the club’s commercial revenues, totalling USD 390 million in 2017, are far greater than domestic and most international rivals.
The composition of this year’s league table reflects the undoubted commercial power of the Premier League with 18 teams in the top 50 and six in the first 10. Premier League clubs enjoy elevated status due to broadcasting, which accounts for 60% of all revenues and, in some cases, contributes more than 90% of club income. In terms of matchday revenues, however, many of the Premier clubs have modest income, largely due to stadium size. Even prominent clubs like Chelsea and Tottenham have had restrictive home grounds that should be remedied with the construction of new stadiums. Outside of the United Kingdom, the Premier enjoys very healthy levels of awareness – 69% – in the growth markets polled by Brand Finance.
Bryn Anderson, Director at Brand Finance, commented:
“The Premier League remains the most visible and most intensely marketed football league worldwide, hence its heavy presence in the Brand Finance Football 50. Although all member clubs benefit from strong broadcasting revenues and high levels of stadium utilisation, there is a huge gulf between the very top and the rest of the league. Furthermore, the reliance on broadcasting creates some vulnerability for the clubs and the challenge will be to successfully introduce a more balanced revenue mix in the future.”
The correlation between on-pitch performance and brand development has improved Liverpool’s brand strength by 4% and brand value by 33%. Manchester City, Premier League champions in 2017-18, saw brand value rise by 30% and brand strength improve by 4%. Tottenham Hotspur are also experiencing positive momentum with brand strength up 7% and brand value rising 10%. It is no coincidence that all three clubs have been widely praised for the quality of their football during 2017-18 – there has been a “feel-good factor” about these teams that contributes to strengthening the brand.
Barça Beat Real in El Clásico of Brands
In addition to overall brand value, the latest Brand Finance Football 50 report also measured brand strength, finding that FC Barcelona is the strongest football brand in the world. Barça were pushed into second place in 2017 by bitter rivals Real Madrid, but after a season in which they had the upper hand in domestic football and benefitted from sponsorship deals, the Catalan club’s brand strength improved – from 95.4 to 96.6 – while Real’s remained virtually unchanged, despite another powerful performance in the UEFA Champions League. Barcelona’s rise as the world’s strongest football brand was also driven by excellent fan feedback in Brand Finance’s original research conducted in the developing football markets of China, India, and the United States.
Barcelona went into 2017-18 with a new manager and lacking the talismanic Neymar, who reportedly yielded in excess of USD 250 million in transfer income for the club when he signed for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG). Barça also started the season with a new, lucrative shirt sponsorship deal with Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten that is earning them USD 67 million per annum, a figure bettered only by Real Madrid’s arrangements with Fly Emirates (USD 85 million) and Manchester United’s deal with Chevrolet (USD 74 million). Barça are significantly ahead of all their peers in their kit manufacturer agreement, however, grossing USD 189 million annually from Nike, the world’s number one sports sponsorship deal.
Barcelona may have enjoyed more recent success in Spain than Real Madrid, winning 13 honours versus Real’s four in the past decade, but Real have won three of the last four UEFA Champions Leagues and are poised for another final in 2017-18. Indeed, Real’s dominance in the leading European competition has created a dynasty that compares to the club’s golden age of the mid-to-late 1950s. Real’s brand is enhanced by the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, the world’s most highly paid sportsman with 300 million social media followers.
Barcelona’s battle with Real Madrid extends beyond the playing field and is also about winning the hearts and minds of people outside of Spain, and indeed, Europe. According to Brand Finance’s original market research, La Liga has a very high level of awareness – some 59% – among football fans in China, India, and the USA.
Bryn Anderson, Director at Brand Finance, commented:
“The combination of domestic prominence and European presence makes Barcelona and Real Madrid two of the most powerful clubs in the world. Yet while their brands are instantly recognisable across all continents, they both face significant challenges in the years ahead when their star players, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, come to the end of their careers. Although the timing is uncertain, Barça and Real may have to invest to ensure there are succession plans in place.”
Muscle in Munich
A positive feeling is something that has been associated with Germany’s Bundesliga for some years, thanks to accessible ticket pricing and high levels of supporter engagement. Bayern Munich continue to lead the way with serial title wins, the sixth consecutive success being achieved in 2017-18. The Bundesliga remains the best supported football league in the world, with crowds averaging over 44,500 per game. Bayern generate higher commercial revenues than any other club globally, some USD 419 million in 2017. Bayern rise to fourth in this year’s ranking in terms of brand strength and also improved brand value by 15% to USD 1,406 million.
The Bundesliga provides 13 clubs in the top 50, but the gulf between Bayern and Germany’s other representatives is significant. The closest club to Bayern is Borussia Dortmund, the world’s best supported in terms of matchday attendances, with a brand value of USD 587 million, followed by Schalke 04, at USD 385 million.
Note to Editors
Every year, leading valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance values the world’s biggest brands. The 50 most valuable football club brands in the world are included in the Brand Finance Football 50 2018 league table.
For a visual summary of findings, view the Brand Finance Football 50 infographic.
Additional insights, charts, and tables on the most valuable and strongest football club brands, sponsorship analysis, and fan engagement market research in the emerging football markets of China, India, and the USA, as well as methodology and definitions of key terms are available in the Brand Finance Football 50 2018 report.
Brand value is equal to a net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand. Brand strength is used to determine what proportion of a business’s revenue is contributed by the brand.
Data compiled for the Brand Finance league tables and reports are provided for the benefit of the media and are not to be used for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.
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About Brand Finance
Brand Finance is the world’s leading brand valuation and strategy consultancy, with offices in over 20 countries. Brand Finance bridges the gap between marketing and finance by quantifying the financial value of brands. Drawing on expertise in strategy, branding, market research, visual identity, finance, tax, and intellectual property, Brand Finance helps brand owners and investors make the right decisions to maximise brand and business value.
Definition of Brand
Brand Finance helped to craft the internationally recognised standard on Brand Valuation – ISO 10668. It defines a brand as a marketing-related intangible asset including, but not limited to, names, terms, signs, symbols, logos, and designs, intended to identify goods, services or entities, creating distinctive images and associations in the minds of stakeholders, thereby generating economic benefits.
Brand Strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures, relative to its competitors. In order to determine the strength of a brand, we look at Brand Investment, Brand Equity, and the impact of those on Brand Performance.
Each brand is assigned a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score out of 100, which feeds into the brand value calculation. Based on the score, each brand is assigned a corresponding rating up to AAA+ in a format similar to a credit rating.
Brand Valuation Approach
Brand Finance calculates the values of the brands in its league tables using the Royalty Relief approach – a brand valuation method compliant with the industry standards set in ISO 10668. It involves estimating the likely future revenues that are attributable to a brand by calculating a royalty rate that would be charged for its use, to arrive at a ‘brand value’ understood as a net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market.
The steps in this process are as follows:
1 Calculate brand strength using a balanced scorecard of football-related Brand Investment, Brand Equity, and Brand Performance metrics. Brand strength is expressed as a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score on a scale of 0 to 100.
2 As brand has differing effects on each source of income, revenues are split down into three streams: matchday, broadcasting, and commercial, each with a corresponding royalty range. For instance, due to the greater influence of the brand on sponsorship deals and merchandising, commercial revenues enjoy a royalty range with a higher maximum percentage than broadcasting or matchday revenues.
3 Calculate royalty rate. The BSI score is applied to the royalty range to arrive at a royalty rate. For example, if the royalty range in a sector is 0-5% and a brand has a BSI score of 80 out of 100, then an appropriate royalty rate for the use of this brand in the given sector will be 4%.
4 Determine applicable football-specific revenues, which can be categorised under matchday, broadcasting, and commercial revenue.
5 Determine forecast revenues using a function of historic revenues and expected future performance.
6 Apply the royalty rate to the forecast revenues to derive brand revenues.
7 Brand revenues are discounted post-tax to a net present value which equals the brand value.