Phenomenal PSG rise proves the sky's the limit for football's new order

The Parisians have cashed in on the increased commercialisation of the game to become one of the world's biggest-hitting clubs
By Kris Voakes | International Football Correspondent

If a Ligue 1 title, Champions League quarter-final appearance and a five-point lead in the league standings this term weren't enough to convince the football world that Paris Saint-Germain are the real deal, the new release of the Deloitte Football Money League proves just how equipped les Parisiens are in their battle to become one of the giants of the global game.

PSG are one of a clutch of new-wave, foreign-owned clubs with whom many of the sport's traditionalists have picked out as mercenaries and misers in a game increasingly stripped of romance. Yet the latest Deloitte figures suggest those who have an issue with the new trend of clubs becoming billionaires' play-things will just have to get used to it.

Paris Saint-Germain
Bayern Munich
Real Madrid
Manchester United
Manchester City
Borussia Dortmund

The Qatari-owned outfit ranked fifth in total revenue amongst the world's football clubs in 2012-13, recording an 81 per cent increase on the previous campaign, and that came largely down to their return of €254.7m in commercial revenue - a figure unrivalled in the game. While their successes on the field – including a first domestic league title in 19 years – played a huge part in their financial gains, their increased marketability and savvy commercial activity have been huge weapons in making them a force to be reckoned with in the money stakes.

The Financial Fair Play (FFP) era's arrival means that the Football Money League becomes increasingly important to clubs looking to make a mark at the top end of the game. Those generating the highest figures will automatically have the greatest spending power as the new laws gradually take maximum effect.

PSG have spent €367m so far on transfers since the Qatar Investment Authority became majority shareholders of the club in 2011, outdoing every other club on the planet. But while some suggested that FFP would be a restraint on spending for clubs without traditional spots in the upper echelons of the game, this year's figures for les Rouge et Bleu suggest that the gamble taken by wealthy foreign owners in injecting large amounts can quickly be made worthwhile by clever business moves. And the latest figures don't even include a massive €200m annual deal signed with the Qatar Tourism Authority in October 2013.

Trevor Birch, a partner at BDO accountancy firm and former chief executive of Chelsea and Everton, told Goal that the commercial deals made by clubs such as PSG can be a monumental factor, explaining that deals such as the ones which took David Beckham and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Paris during 2012-13 will often see huge gains in revenue.

"I don't think it is the real driver, but in sponsorship terms it all helps to have a superstar on the books," said Birch. "It is the same with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale at Real Madrid. That said, it is not the sole driver in the success, it is the form of clubs in Europe that is a key point.

Edinson Cavani Napoli
Javier Pastore Palermo €42m
Thiago Silva Milan €42m
Lucas Moura Sao Paulo €40m
Marquinhos Roma €31.4m
Ezequiel Lavezzi Napoli €28.9m
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Milan €21m
Lucas Digne Lille €15m
Marco Verratti Pescara €12m
Thiago Motta Inter €11.5m
Kevin Gameiro Lorient €11m

"FFP should theoretically act as a restraint but what it will obviously do is force clubs to seek revenue from sponsorships and there will probably be an increase in revenues from commercial deals for some clubs. Obviously they can't necessarily increase the wage bill unless they can increase their revenue.

"It is not a quick-fix to increase matchday revenues by expanding a stadium since that takes time, so they will have to do it by way of sponsorships and commercial deals."

But while PSG may need a few more years of Champions League progression to cement their place in the top five of the world's football superpowers in the longer term, it could be argued that their massively-increased pulling power shows they are winning the battle to overcome the restraints of FFP.

"It remains to be seen how clubs will cope with it," argues Birch. "We're only in the early stages of its assessment period. For instance, Chelsea have ended the first period saying they have complied, but the first period they are judging them on is two seasons (2011-2013).

"So in other words, they can lose €45 million over two seasons but the next set of results will go over three seasons (2011-2014) and will still only be €45m, so technically they will have to break even next year because they've more or less just got within the €45m in the first two seasons."

But while next year's Deloitte list may well reveal more in terms of the ability of clubs to meet with FFP targets, there can be little doubt that the likes of PSG and Manchester City mean business. The increased commercialisation of football sets the game in good stead, and it is the Paris club who are currently benefitting the most from it.

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