Old Trafford side may top rich list but figures and statistics hide a multitude of sins
In a survey published by the respected American business website Forbes.com/soccer, the Premier League champions were valued, at the end of the 2008-09 season, to be worth £333 million more than second-placed Real Madrid, whose brand value was estimated at £859 million. Both clubs saw their value shrink by two per cent from last year’s figures.
Although the Premier League has suffered a fall from grace in the Champions League this season, with none of its four entrants reaching the semi-final stage, the English game dominates the Forbes top 10, with Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea joining United alongside three Italian clubs, two from Spain and one from Germany.
More worrying, however, is the claim that the Premier League is the most indebted in Europe, carrying 56 per cent of all the debt of the region’s top leagues combined, according to Forbes.
While United, whose debt stands at £716.5 million, declined to comment on the results of the survey, their presence at the top of the Forbes list, which ranks the top 20 most valuable clubs, is known to strengthen their ability to secure lucrative sponsorship and partnership agreements across the globe.
The club’s London-based commercial operation has generated more than £130 million in sponsorship deals since opening for business two years ago — including an £80 million, four-year shirt sponsorship deal with Aon which is due to start in July — with the Glazers keen to fully exploit the power of the club’s brand image.
The Red Knights, a group of wealthy businessmen, are attempting to raise funds to launch a takeover bid at Old Trafford, but the Forbes figures suggest they must raise well in excess of £1 billion if they are to make a viable offer for the club.
According to Forbes, the world’s 20 most valuable football clubs generated a combined £422 million in operating income last season.
Their combined revenues grew by 26 million euros (£22.6 million) to 3.9bn euros (£3.39 billion) for the 2008—09 season, while their value rose from 439 million euros to an average of 451 million euros (to £382 million from £392 million).
But the top five clubs — United, Real, Arsenal, Barcelona and Bayern Munich — took in 86 per cent of the total due to their worldwide following allowing them to claim greater sponsorship and media revenue.
Broadcast rights account for 42 per cent of the revenue of Europe’s top 20 clubs, with sponsorship, merchandising and ticket sales providing the bulk of the rest. (Telegraph)
Now the obvious question to ask is if United’s worth has diminished further, for lets not forget that according to these figures the Old Trafford club may be the richest but they are in decline in cash terms, over the period of the current season.
Manchester United fans are understandably angered by The Glazers mismanagement of the Premier League champions that has left them saddled with frankly staggering levels of debt and this news story may simply serve to mask the real issue at hand and that is that arguably the biggest club in the world reportedly has debts in excess of £700m.
One can only hope that someone replaces the American owners sooner rather than later and any self respecting United fan would do well to join MUST by CLICKING HERE.