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Football’s First Billion Dollar Brand? Not Barcelona, Manchester United!

08 June 2015
This article is more than 9 years old.

Football’s First Billion Dollar Brand? Not Barcelona, Manchester United!

Man U overtakes Bayern to become the world’s most valuable football club brand
First club with a brand worth over $1 billion
Record-breaking deals agreed despite two mediocre seasons, driving up value
Champions League final victory adds $28 million to Barca’s brand value
But Barca is 6th, having been overtaken by Chelsea and Man City
Southampton is the fastest growing brand, up 89% on 2014


The Brand Finance Football 50, released today, is an annual study conducted by leading brand valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance. Football’s biggest clubs are put to the test to determine which command the strongest and most valuable brands.

Billion Dollar Devils

Despite another season without silverware, Manchester United has reclaimed its position at the top of the Brand Finance Football 50, knocking Bayern Munich off the top spot. The Red Devils have become the first billion dollar football brand, with 63% growth bringing total brand value to $1.2 billion.

Champions League Victory can’t Stop Barca’s Slide

Barca’s resounding 3-1 win over Juventus caps a year of stunning successes (including La Liga title and the Copa del Rey) in which the club has made history by becoming the first to win the treble twice. Saturday’s game alone added $28 million to Barca’s brand value, contributing to a overall increase on 2014 of $151 million dollars, bringing the total value of the brand to $773 million.

However as glorious as Barca’s record may be, it simply has not been able to harness its brand to the same extent as rivals Real Madrid (whose brand is $100 million more valuable) or the rapidly growing English teams. Man City and Chelsea have both overtaken it for the first time, pushing Barca into 6th place in the Brand Finance Football 50.

Thanks to sporting success and a squad stacked with legendary figures such as Messi and Neymar, Barcelona actually has thestrongest brand of any club, rated AAA+ by Brand Finance. However ‘brand strength’ only reflects the notional potential of the brand. For a club’s brand to generate income a business team that is as star-studded and tactically brilliant as the team on the pitch is required. That is how to build brand value.

Clubs Need Stars in the Boardroom as well as the Dressing Room

Brand Finance CEO David Haigh comments, “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.

Sponsors’ desire to be associated with the Man U brand appears undimmed. The current shirt deal with Chevrolet (£47 million per year) is worth more than double that with previous partner AON. In 2014 Nike decided to end its longstanding relationship with United, but rather than heralding a loss of faith amongst sponsors, it merely opened the door for another record-breaking agreement. Adidas will be Man U’s kit provider for the next 10 years in a deal worth £750 million ($1.1 billion). On an annual basis, this is more than triple the £23.5 million ($36 million) per year Nike had been paying.

Premier League Payday

Manchester United received another boost to its financial potency this year thanks to a record-breaking new deal for the broadcast rights of the 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 Premier League seasons. The deal is worth £5.1 billion ($7.8 billion) for the UK rights alone, closer to £9 billion ($14 billion) for the global rights, representing a 70% increase on the last round. The news saw Manchester United’s share price immediately jump 5%. The deal has been a boon to all Premier League clubs however. Each will receive close to £150 million ($230 million) a season, which has seen their brand values surge this year.

The Saints Go Marching On

Southampton is one of them and is this year’s fastest growing brand. The Saints’ brand value is up 89% to $183 million. However Southampton has been more than a passive beneficiary of booming broadcast revenues. Ronald Koeman has masterminded a 7thplace finish that means a club facing administration in 2009 and playing in the third tier of English football in 2010 can look forward to European football next season and the chance to build its own brand on the international stage.

West Ham Moves Onwards and Upwards

West Ham is another club to benefit from the windfall. The Hammers’ 86% growth means puts them in the top 20 for the first time, with a brand value of over $200 million. When the club moves home to London’s Olympic stadium it can look forward to further growth thanks to its increased profile and match-day attendance. Tara Warren, Executive Director, Marketing and Communications at West Ham comments "When Vice-Chairman Karren Brady arrived at West Ham five years ago, she instilled a belief that we could establish the club as a truly global brand. The re-brand that my team have executed over the past year showed that desire to create a more ambitious and successful future. Our focus now is on maximising the potential of our imminent move to our magnificent, 54,000-seat new stadium. West Ham will always honour and celebrate its great history, but today's findings show that West Ham United is also fast becoming one of the most investable brands in world football."

Juventus Rejuvenated

Juventus has just missed out on a place in the top ten after what was so nearly a perfect season. Victory in Serie A and the Coppa Italia made it a triumphant year for manager Massimiliano Allegri despite this weekend’s loss. On pitch success has been matched by lucrative commercial deals. Adidas will replace Nike as the club’s kit supplier in a €139.5 million deal, contributing to a 42% increase in brand value to $350 million. Juventus appears to have made a comprehensive recovery from the scandals that dogged the club a decade ago. The sale of a 48% stake in AC Milan to Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol suggests that global audiences and investors are beginning to see Serie A clubs as prospects that cannot be ignored. If Juventus continues to perform so well, in particular in Europe, prospects for further growth look good.



Media Contacts

Penny Erricker
Communications Executive
Brand Finance

About Brand Finance

Brand Finance is the world’s leading brand valuation consultancy. Bridging the gap between marketing and finance for more than 25 years, Brand Finance evaluates the strength of brands and quantifies their financial value to help organizations of all kinds make strategic decisions.

Headquartered in London, Brand Finance has offices in over 20 countries, offering services on all continents. Every year, Brand Finance conducts more than 5,000 brand valuations, supported by original market research, and publishes over 100 reports which rank brands across all sectors and countries.

Brand Finance also operates the Global Brand Equity Monitor, conducting original market research annually on over 5,000 brands, surveying more than 150,000 respondents across 38 countries and 31 industry sectors. Combining perceptual data from the Global Brand Equity Monitor with data from its valuation database enables Brand Finance to arm brand leaders with the data and analytics they need to enhance brand and business value.

Brand Finance is a regulated accountancy firm, leading the standardization of the brand valuation industry. Brand Finance was the first to be certified by independent auditors as compliant with both ISO 10668 and ISO 20671 and has received the official endorsement of the Marketing Accountability Standards Board (MASB) in the United States.

Definition of Brand

Brand is defined 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

Brand strength is the efficacy of a brand’s performance on intangible measures relative to its competitors. Brand Finance evaluates brand strength in a process compliant with ISO 20671, looking at Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and the impact of those on Business Performance. The data used is derived from Brand Finance’s proprietary market research programme and from publicly available sources.

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 Brand Rating up to AAA+ in a format similar to a credit rating.

Brand Valuation Approach

Brand Finance calculates the values of brands in its rankings 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 metrics assessing Marketing Investment, Stakeholder Equity, and Business Performance. Brand strength is expressed as a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score on a scale of 0 to 100.

2 Determine royalty range for each industry, reflecting the importance of brand to purchasing decisions. In luxury, the maximum percentage is high, while in extractive industry, where goods are often commoditised, it is lower. This is done by reviewing comparable licensing agreements sourced from Brand Finance’s extensive database.

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 brand-specific revenues by estimating a proportion of parent company revenues attributable to a brand.

5 Determine forecast revenues using a function of historic revenues, equity analyst forecasts, and economic growth rates.

6 Apply the royalty rate to the forecast revenues to derive brand revenues.

7 Discount post-tax brand revenues to a net present value which equals the brand value.


Brand Finance has produced this study with an independent and unbiased analysis. The values derived and opinions presented in this study are based on publicly available information and certain assumptions that Brand Finance used where such data was deficient or unclear. Brand Finance accepts no responsibility and will not be liable in the event that the publicly available information relied upon is subsequently found to be inaccurate. The opinions and financial analysis expressed in the study are not to be construed as providing investment or business advice. Brand Finance does not intend the study to be relied upon for any reason and excludes all liability to any body, government, or organisation.

The data presented in this study form part of Brand Finance's proprietary database, are provided for the benefit of the media, and are not to be used in part or in full for any commercial or technical purpose without written permission from Brand Finance.

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