LONDON (AP) — Real Madrid has remained football's biggest money maker for the eighth straight year as many of Europe's leading football clubs shrugged off the economic hardship engulfing the continent and boosted their revenue.
The Spanish champions became the first sports team anywhere to break the €500 million ($666 million) revenue barrier as they stayed ahead of Spanish rival Barcelona in the Football Money League compiled by accountancy firm Deloitte.
Both teams saw their income rise by 7% during the 2011-12 season with Madrid taking in €512.6 million ($683 million) and Barcelona €483 million ($643million). While the top six teams remained unchanged, only third-place Manchester United revenue's dropped, with a fall of 3 percent to 320.3 million pounds ($507 million) after exiting last season's Champions League at the group stage led to a reduction in television income.
United is followed by Bayern Munich on €368.4 million ($490 million), European champion Chelsea on 261 million pounds ($413 million) and Arsenal on 234.9 million pounds ($372 million). "There is minimal economic growth in Europe yet football clubs are growing an average of 10 percent," said Dan Jones, lead partner of the sports division at Deloitte.
"An unchanged top six emphasizes the fact that these clubs have some of the largest fan bases and hence strongest revenues, in both domestic and international markets," Jones added. Manchester City leapt five places to seventh with revenue of 231.1 million pounds ($366 million) in the season that the heavy investment by the Abu Dhabi ownership delivered a first English title in 44 years. The growth is largely due to a new sponsorship deal with Etihad Airways, while the club benefited from playing in the Champions League for the first time.
But City trails United by five points in the title race and exited the Champions League in the group stage for the second successive season. The top 20 clubs in the Deloitte list generated a combined €4.8 billion ($6.4 billion) in 2011/12, a 10 percent lift from the 2010-11 season's top 20.
The only new entry is 20th-place Newcastle, which took Valencia's place to return to the list after a three-year absence by generating 93.3 million pounds ($148 million) in revenue after it unexpectedly finished fifth in the league.
The complete top 20 is: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, AC Milan, Liverpool, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Tottenham, Schalke, Napoli, Marseille, Lyon, Hamburg, AS Roma, Newcastle.