Real Madrid CF (brand value up 19% to €1.5 billion) has achieved a rare double by retaining its title as the world’s most valuable football club brand for the fourth consecutive year and winning the additional title of strongest football brand in the world for the first time, according to a new report from leading brand valuation consultancy, Brand Finance. Real Madrid has added the pair of titles to its well-stocked title cabinet following a season where the team have won the Spanish league, LaLiga, and reached the final of the European Champions League.
Every year, leading brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance puts 5,000 of the biggest brands to the test, and publishes around 100 reports, ranking brands across many sectors and countries. The football (soccer) industry’s top 50 most valuable and strongest brands are included in the annual Brand Finance Football 50 ranking. This valuation, generated by professional accountants in compliance with ISO brand valuation standards, seek to estimate the net economic benefit that a brand owner would achieve by licensing the brand in the open market.
Real Madrid’s 19% increase in brand value this year was driven by a combination of improved brand strength and a positive revenue trajectory. This is a strong and promising reversal from the 10% slump in brand value last year, which was depressed by COVID-19 uncertainties and weaker fan sentiment due to the then-floundering plan for a European Super League.
Real Madrid are now clearly the dominant brand in the global football business. For four years, they have been the most valuable brand thanks largely to their business success off-the-field. However, their continued success on-the-field has delivered them the brand double, and they are now also the world’s strongest football brand. Even opponents recognise, respect and admire the reputation of Real Madrid.Hugo Hensley, Head of Sports Services, Brand Finance
In addition to calculating brand value, Brand Finance also determines the relative strength of brands through a balanced scorecard of metrics evaluating marketing investment, stakeholder equity, and business performance. Compliant with ISO 20671, Brand Finance’s assessment of stakeholder equity incorporates original market research data from football fans in UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, USA, China and Brazil. Real Madrid earned a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 94.0 out of 100 and a corresponding brand rating of AAA+, making it one of the elite brands in the world, across all sectors of the global economy.
The Spanish champions were the most likely club to be rated ‘the best club in the world’ in Band Finance’s independent global research, reflecting that the club’s long-standing success has made success a core attribute of their brand image. Although the brand’s value has not yet recovered to its pre-pandemic peak in 2019 of €1.6 billion, the brand has strong opportunities to grow alongside international broadcasting and sponsorship opportunities.
Spanish clubs grow in brand value
All Spanish club brands are growing in brand value. The most, Real Betis (+33%) followed by Atlético de Madrid (+30%), Villarreal CF (24%), Valencia (+22%), Athletic de Bilbao (+20%) and Real Madrid (+20%).
The 8 LaLiga clubs included among the most valuable have collectively increased their value by 18% compared to 2021. LaLiga juggernauts Real Madrid (1st) and Barcelona (3rd) are once again in the top 3 most valuable brands this year with the next highest ranking club Atletico Madrid improving by one rank to 12th. All three clubs have once again qualified for next seasons champions league and will be looking forward to playing a full season with revitalised attendance as covid restrictions are set to be removed.
Although coming 2nd in LaLiga and remaining the 3rd most valuable football club brand, Barcelona will no doubt be eager to close the gap on their rivals Real Madrid who finished 13 points clear and have once again outperformed them in the Champions League. Brand Finance football research revealed that Real Madrid ranked 1st across seven markets for being rated as the best club in the world. The club also ranked 1st for being seen as highly ambitious - Barcelona ranked 4th and 6th respectively.
Real Betis saw their highest finish (5th) in LaLiga since the 04/05 campaign when they ranked 4th securing them a spot in the Europa league which will offer a welcome boost to next year’s revenue generation. Brand Finance research revealed that the club performed very well with perceptions of the owner’s care about the club, appreciating their fans and playing with an exciting and entertaining style.
It is time for Spanish clubs to make the right decisions and unite towards a common goal.Teresa de Lemus, Managing Director, Brand Finance Spain
Manchester City overtake Barcelona to become brand value runner-up, reporting highest revenue in world football
Manchester City FC (brand value up 19% to just over €1.3 billion) have pulled ahead of FC Barcelona (brand value up 5% to just under €1.3 billion) for the first time since 2015. This puts the Northern English powerhouse club in the runner-up position, an achievement correlated with recording the highest revenue in world football in 2021. Manchester City’s high revenue can be credited to their continued on-field performance in the 2022 campaign – winning the English Premier League and reaching the 2021 European Champions League Final and 2022 semi-final.
Brand Finance’s 2022 football fan research shows that the Manchester City brand has grown in both perceptions and following, scoring highly in metrics such as ‘the club is ambitious’ and ‘the club has a global following’.
Barcelona’s brand saw modest growth of 5% in 2022, to €1.3bn, a relative stagnation compared to the close competitors, and a divergence from close competition with El Classico rivals Real Madrid for the top spot in the past two years. Brand Strength is in the top AAA+ rating, but weaker revenue forecasts than pre-pandemic have left brand value behind the 2019 peak. The club somewhat controversially sold the naming rights to the famous Camp Nou stadium to Spotify in a wide ranging partnership, which management will hope is the beginning of an upward turn for club’s commercial prospects.
In Italy, Juventus leads resurgent brands as AC Milan grows fastest in world with first league title in 11 years
Juventus FC (brand value up 25% to €705 million) has retained its position as the most valuable and strongest football brand in Italy, while AC Milan (brand value up 76% to €269 million) achieving the fastest growth in both areas. The two Italian football brands are amongst the fastest growing football brands in the world and lead a cohort of extremely strong results for Italian football brands in the Brand Finance Football 50 2022 rankings.
The Turin-based Juventus continues to be the most valuable football brand in Italy, closely correlated with its record of winning the most league and Coppa Italia titles. The extreme brand strength has been built upon a period of sustained on-field success.
These results support global research which found that Juventus is one of the most loved clubs in the world with strong performance in all areas. Juventus was rated particularly highly for stadium quality, perception of club quality, fair play, sponsorships, attractiveness for partners & broadcasters, and average crowd attendance.
As the fastest growing football brand in the world, AC Milan have made steps to regain former glory, achieving the fasted growth in both brand value and brand strength. The club’s Brand Strength Index increased by 6.8 points to 77.2 out of 100, earning a rating of AA+. In doing so, AC Milan improved its brand valuation ranking by 12 places, up from 29th to 17th, as it passed several closely ranked clubs.
AC Milan’s brand value is still 16% below their pre-pandemic 2019 brand value high of €321m, but the club will hope that this time it can maintain the brand value, having endured significant brand value variance since featuring at 7th in Brand Finance’s first ranking in 2010.
In addition to Juventus and Milan, every Italian football brand in the Football 50 ranking achieved strong brand value growth, including FC Internazionale Milano (brand value up 30% to €495 million), SSC Napoli (brand value up 32% to €182 million), AS Roma (brand value up 49% to €181 million), and Atalanta (brand value up 52% to €123 million). Further, ACF Fiorentina (valued for first time at €95 million) is a new entrant to the Football 50 ranking in 50th position, bringing the total Italian representation to 7 brands in the global top 50.
Flamengo enter the ranking at 49th as only non-European team in top 50
Brazilian club Flamengo (brand value €96 million) enter the ranking at 49th, as the sole representative from outside Europe in the 50 most valuable, and alongside Celtic FC (brand value up 19% to €113 million), AFC Ajax (brand value up 3% to €182 million) and SL Benfica (brand value down 12% to €101 million) as the only 4 clubs from outside of the ‘big 5’ leagues.
The Flamengo brand is worth over twice the brand of the next most valuable Brazilian Club, Palmeiras (brand value €42 million).
Flamengo fly up the rankings in terms of BSI standing in at 15th with a BSI of 78 and an AA+ brand rating. Brazilian clubs in general have performed very strongly in the Brand Finance 2022 football fan research, with fans associating them both with strong footballing metrics (such as star players, challenging for trophies, well managed) and important brand image attributes (reputation, sustainable, innovative).
63% of Flamengo fans believe the team has a lot of star players and 33% of Flamengo fans say their favourite player plays for the club; Flamengo scores higher on either metric than any other team globally. An association with star players is not just an entertaining draw for the fans and an important criteria for sponsors, it is a key attribute for the business as high value transfers to wealthy European clubs have become an integral part of the commercial model for many of Brazil’s top teams.
German clubs stalled but Frankfurt sees success
Bayern achieved brand value growth of 5%, to €1.1bn, on the back of a 10th consecutive Bundesliga title – however the story isn’t so sunny for Germany’s other clubs as the total value represented by Bundesliga clubs fell 5% in 2022. This was primarily due to a drop in the perceptions of the league, which is a contributing factor in the strength of each club’s brand. Only 18% of fans see the Bundesliga as highly competitive, compared to 60% for England’s Premier League and Brazil’s Serie A, and 50% for Spain’s LaLiga.
One club breaking this trend is Eintracht Frankfurt (brand value up 8% to €191m) which rose 3 ranks to an all time high of 22nd place following a Europa League win against Rangers in Seville. The brand value growth comes from a combination of a Brand Strength Index increase and more positive revenue forecasts - Champions League football next year is expected to deliver a boost to matchday, broadcasting and commercial revenues.
Manchester United fall to lowest-ever rank at 5th, behind rivals Liverpool
Manchester United FC (brand value up 11% to just under €1.3 billion) as the team earned their lowest-ever Premier League points total; this growth is not enough to keep the club ahead of Northern English rivals Manchester City and Liverpool FC (brand value up 31% to €1.3 billion) leading to a drop to 5th in the Football 50 rankings. The brand has previously never placed lower than 3rd.
Despite failing to qualify for the European Champions’ League group stages as well as a long run of poor form on-field Manchester United are still able to record growth in both brand value and brand strength, reverting a three year decline in value. Following the announcement of the European Super League last year, United was one of the six English Premier League clubs who lost brand value as a result. This year’s brand valuation shows that United has substantially recovered its previous brand strength, and still remains strong among international audiences.
Liverpool ranks second in brand strength globally with a score of 92.9, securing a AAA+ brand rating, increasing by 3.9 points this year - more than any other club in the Top 10. This is partially due to the clear and positive reversal from ownership following the ESL fiasco, but also strong performances in both the league and cups – Liverpool have played in every game possible in 2021/22 as the team claimed England’s two domestic cups and have reached the Champions League final for the 3rd time in 5 years. The club is also most likely to be seen as innovative and holding a good reputation in English football.
Tottenham Hotspur is now solidly within top 10 clubs globally
Tottenham Hotspur FC (brand value up 21% to €873 million) achieved an all-time high in brand valuation and were ranking as the 8th most valuable brand globally, above fellow London clubs Chelsea FC (brand value up 11% to €855 million) and Arsenal FC (brand value up 18% to €793 million). Tottenham finished above both Arsenal and Manchester United this season, securing their spot in the 2022/23 Champions’ League group stages, which has become increasingly important to all stakeholders for the top clubs – players, sponsors, owners and broadcasters are all strongly influenced by presence in Europe’s top international competition.
Since first featuring in the Top 10 most valuable football brands in 2015, Spurs have steadily been growing both brand strength and revenue. Spurs are now more frequently qualifying for the European Champions League group stage boosting broadcasting income and enabling the club to charge a premium for partnerships. The construction of the Tottenham Hotspur stadium has boosted matchday revenue, however management have not yet achieved the goal of finding a lucrative stadium naming sponsor – this may be more likely now that NFL International Series games have returned to the ground, bringing with them a large new audience.
Atalanta and Real Betis both grow strongly as team performance improves
Real Betis (brand value up 33%) are one of the fastest growing brands following a successful domestic season, winning their first silverware in 17 years with a Copa Del Rey triumph and narrowly missing out on Champions League Qualification. The club is well perceived by fans – it is the Spanish club most highly rated as a positive force in the local community – and these attributes have pushed BSI up 5 points to 75.6, an AA+ rating.
Atalanta (brand value up 52% to €123 million) achieved very strong brand value growth in connection with reaching the quarter final of the 2022 Europa League competition and have been able to leverage their on-field success to achieve greater commercial revenue.