By Paul Kennedy
If you believe that Europe's big clubs are in for some hard times, you should think again. The average value of the top 20 clubs on Forbes magazine's annual list of the world’s most valuable soccer clubs increased 20 percent last year.
(Click here to listen to Forbes' editors talk about their soccer list.)
Once again, Manchester United topped the list of the world’s most valuable soccer clubs with an estimated value of $2.24 billion -- more than even the value of the New York Yankees and Dallas Cowboys, the richest U.S. sports franchises.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are ranked 2-3 at $1.87 billion and $1.30 billion, respectively. Arsenal, at $1.29 billion, and Germany’s Bayern Munich, at $1.2 billion, round out soccer's billionaire club,
The valuations are determined by combining a review of financial documents and interviews with sports bankers with Deloitte LLP’s annual “Football Money League” report (which ranked Real Madrid as the richest club by revenues ahead of Barcelona and United).
The key to United's wealth: its massive broadcasting revenues ($192 million in 2010-11) and UEFA Champions League payout ($80 million).
The success of the Champions League is the big driver across the board: UEFA paid out $1.14 billion to the 32 qualifiers for the group stage, 23 percent more than the previous year.
FORBES TOP 20 CLUBS (2010-11 VALUE)
1. Man.United $2.235 billion
2. Real Madrid $1.877 billion
3. Barcelona $1.307 billion
4. Arsenal $1.292 billion
5. Bay. Munich $1.235 billion
6. AC Milan $989 million
7. Chelsea $761 million
8. Liverpool $619 million
9. Juventus $591 million
10. Schalke 04 $587 million
11. Tottenham $564 million
12. Inter Milan $490 million
13. Man. City $443 million
14. Bor. Dortmund $394 million
15. Lyon $385 million
16. Hamburg $355 million
17. Roma $354 million
18. Marseille $349 million
19. Valencia $288 million
20. Napoli $283 million
RED BULLS' INTEGRATION. Joshua Robinson of the Wall Street Journal peeks under the hood of MLS's New York Red Bulls, examining their place in the crowded New York sports market. Some have questioned the support of parent company Red Bull. "But over the last year," writes Robinson, "Red Bull North America has become completely integrated into the club's business."
Some tidbits on the Red Bulls:
-- Red Bull has distributed 300,000 cans of its beverage with Thierry Henry's picture on them in the New York metropolitan area. Another 1.3 million cans will have Rafael Marquez's picture on them in a campaign to be conducted in Western states.
-- Viewership on the first four MSG telecasts of 2012 have more than tripled from an average of a measly 6,012 households in 2011 to an average of 21,609.
-- While attendance at Red Bull Arena has been largely disappointing since its opening in 2010, interest in the 30 luxury suites at the stadium has grown, allowing the Red Bulls to double the price from $75,000 for 18 MLS games to $150,000 for all events at the stadium.
MLS TV NUMBERS. After six games, the MLS on NBC Sports Network is up 56 percent in average viewership compared to the 2011 regular-season average on Fox Soccer (106,000 vs. 68,000).
BUNDESLIGA MILESTONE. Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge called the TV deal the Bundesliga signed with Sky Deutschland and ARD “a milestone in the history of the Bundesliga." The league said the deal will bring in about 2.5 billion euros ($3.3 billion) in total, an average increase of 50 percent a year over four years.
SPONSORSHIP FRONT. MLS and Continental Tire are holding their third annual MLS W.O.R.K.S./Continental Tire Greener Goals Week, a league-wide initiative, in conjunction with Bonneville Environmental Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council and Earth Day Canada, focused on increasing environmental awareness and helping MLS clubs, fans and communities reduce their environmental footprint. All the electricity used in MLS stadiums at games during Greener Goals Week will be offset with the purchase of Renewable Energy Certificates from BEF, ensuring that only green energy will be used.
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