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No trophies but Man United is still the Brand Champion

21 May 2012
This article is more than 12 years old.
  • Manchester United remains the world’s most valuable football brand with a brand value of US $853 million after solid performances on the pitch and great numbers on the income statement.
  • Champion’s League triumph secures another season in Europe for Chelsea but despite two trophies the club stays 5th due to a poor Premier League performance.
  • Man City is steadily climbing up the rankings, placed 8th this year, but despite nearly $1.5bn of investment and a title win, it cannot yet challenge United’s accumulated brand equity.
  • Despite disappointment in the Champion’s League final, Bayern Munich enjoys this year’s strongest growth, with a $293m increase in brand value that sees it take 2nd place from Real Madrid.
  • The two Spanish giants, Barcelona and Real Madrid, have been afflicted by the state of their domestic economy, with unemployment hitting gate receipts and other revenue streams.
  • A weak domestic economy has hit Italian clubs too, with all but Napoli falling this year.

Man United has put in a solid premier league performance this season, narrowly missing out on its 20th title after a nail-biting end to the season. Income from TV rights, gate receipts and merchandise remains strong, providing broad revenue base that spreads risk better than most clubs. Man United has huge and long-standing international appeal and is perhaps the most recognised football club brand worldwide, with vast accumulated brand equity. However after a season without any silverware, it cannot afford to rest on its laurels.

Shrewd commercial management and commanding Champion’s League performances by Bayern Munich could see United unseated from the top spot of the BrandFinance® Football 50 in the near future. Meanwhile the huge investment in local rivals, Manchester City, has finally yielded a Premier League victory. With Sir Alex Ferguson reaching the end of his career and the Glazers still paying off debts, the club may struggle to maintain the squad it needs to stay at the top. The huge investment by Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi, estimated at $1.5bn, is beginning to pay off for City. The club has matched United on the field and though still in its shadow in terms of Brand value, it is catching up rapidly. At $302m, the Man City brand is worth nearly double what it was in 2011.

There’s some consolation for Bayern Munich who is this year’s big winner in terms of brand value, overtaking Barcelona and Real Madrid a value just short of US $ 800 million, despite losing out to Chelsea. The success in Germany and presence in the final of the Champions League has been bolstered by financial nous. In contrast to Manchester United’s international appeal, Bayern has focussed on its domestic market. This strategy has evidently paid off, as Bayern has the highest commercial revenues of any club at $254m. “However Bayern needs to start building its brand in emerging markets or they will be left behind by relying too heavily on their domestic fan base,’’ commented Dave Chattaway, Head of Sports Brands.

Italian and Spanish clubs fared badly this year, affected by the economic turmoil in their home markets. Real Madrid and Barcelona suffered falls in brand value, with Barcelona’s dropping from $629m last year to $580m in 2012. Attendances are down due to high unemployment and uncertainty. Clubs in both countries must continue to look abroad for a steady stream of commercial and broadcasting revenues, capitalising on strong brands.

David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finance, commenting on the table stated, “This year’s study shows that even football isn’t immune to the Euro Crisis, with Spanish and Italian teams being hit hardest. The two top teams operate different marketing strategies, Bayern prioritising its domestic fan base whilst United concentrates on global opportunities.”

The Brand Finance® Football 50 2012

Rank 2012

Rank 2011



Brand Value 2012 US$ M

Brand Rating 2012

% Change in Brand Value



Manchester United FC

Barclays Premier League






FC Bayern München







Real Madrid CF







FC Barcelona







Chelsea FC

Barclays Premier League






Arsenal FC

Barclays Premier League






Liverpool FC

Barclays Premier League






Manchester City FC

Barclays Premier League






AC Milan

Serie A TIM






FC Schalke 04





To view the full Brand Finance® Football 50 2012, visit


Brand Finance has used the ‘royalty relief’ approach to perform the brand valuation. This is an intuitively simple approach that assumes a company does not own its own brand and calculates how much it would need to pay to license it from a third party.

The present value of that stream of (hypothetical) royalty payments represents the value of the brand. We have scored each club’s brand strength through a range of metrics to calculate the royalty each individual club could expect to command. We used the ‘royalty relief’ methodology for two reasons.

Firstly, it is the valuation methodology that is favoured by accounting and tax authorities and the courts because it calculates brand values by reference to documented, third-party transactions. Secondly, it can be performed on the basis of publicly available financial information. We have used a number of data inputs to complete this project.

Brand Value (BV):

The value of the clubs “Trademarks and associated intellectual Property.”

Brand Ratings:

These are calculated using Brand Finance’s ßrandßeta® analysis, which benchmarks a brand relative to its competitors on a scale ranging from AAA to D. It is conceptually similar to a credit rating.Sector specific metrics are used to score the brand strength including brand awareness, revenue allocation, club heritage, Domestic / European honours, UEFA ranking, and stadium utilisation among others.


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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