By Ben Hayward | Spanish Football Editor
The gap is growing. Not only are Barcelona and Real Madrid enjoying an extended era of domestic dominance in Spain, but the two rivals are also pulling away from their continental cousins, too.
Fascinating figures released on Thursday in Deloitte's annual report on football finance see the two giants top the game's rich-list once again. None of the premier seven sides in this year's list moved places in the latest edition; Madrid and Barcelona, however, did not just consolidate their positions at the summit, but opened up a wider gap between themselves and the rest.
Madrid lead the elite for the seventh year in a row, leaving them just one first-placed finish away from Manchester United's record of eight. The Santiago Bernabeu side made light of a small downturn in gate receipts and loss of the one-off revenue from hosting the 2010 Champions League Final, by boosting their coffers with significant increases in both broadcasting and commercial revenue.
Overall, an increase of just over €40 million from last year's list keeps the capital club comfortably clear at the top, and Deloitte noted: "Los Blancos’ commercial success continues to be underpinned by strong revenue growth across merchandising, sponsorship and non-matchday activities."
However, Madrid have been caught slightly by fierce rivals Barcelona over the past calendar year. The Catalan club saw revenue increase across the board, with a total rise of €52.6m (13%), which means Barca close the gap on Madrid from €40.5m in 2009-10 to €28.8m in 2010-11.
And as they benefit from a full season of shirt sponsorship for the first time in their history following their agreement with Qatar Foundation (which was announced in the middle of last season and is worth a massive €30m each year) plus the prize money gained from claiming the Club World Cup in December, Barca could possibly even catch Madrid in next year's list. Deloitte explained: "If Barcelona can continue their on-pitch success both in La Liga and the Uefa Champions League, this may allow them to further close the revenue gap on Real Madrid and to challenge them for the top position in the Money League."
|REAL MADRID & BARCELONA | How they topped the Deloitte list
What seems certain is that, be it Real Madrid or Barcelona, one of the two Spanish giants will be topping this list next year, and for many years to come after that. And as in the Iberian nation, the two teams are opening up an enviable margin at the top, too.
Barca extended their advantage over third-placed Manchester United from €48.3m to €83.7m, while Madrid are now over €100m clear of the Red Devils, whose total revenue stood at €367m for the 2010-11 period, a steady increase of just over €17m for the English champions.
While sides like United and Bayern Munich boast impressive matchday revenues and significant commercial success, they cannot come close in terms of the income generated from broadcasting rights.
In Spain, Madrid and Barca have negotiated their own deals with broadcast giant MediaPro, meaning they control over 40 per cent of the total television monies paid out for the live transmission of Primera Division fixtures, a privilege not afforded to the teams from Europe's other big leagues.
Valencia, currently third in La Liga and widely considered within Spain as 'the best of the rest' following back-to-back third-placed finishes, are the only other Spanish side in the Deloitte top 20, coming in at 19th with a total revenue of €116.8m.
Over half of that total, €66.4m, is generated through television rights, but that number is only just more than a third of what is received by Barca and Madrid.
|TELEVISION REVENUE | The Top 10
||2010-11 TV Money
And therein lies the problem, says Jose Maria Gay, Professor of Economy and Finance at the University of Barcelona, former adviser to Espanyol and football finance expert.
"If you look at the list, Spain isn't represented like the other leagues. You have four teams from Germany, five from Italy and six from England," he told Goal.com.
"Valencia have made the list this year, but they didn't last year. And you can see the huge difference in their income: they are the third team in Spain but generate less money through television than a smaller team from England, for example."
And Gay, who has written numerous studies on football economics, says the situation in Spain is making Madrid and Barcelona stronger both at home and in Europe, as the rich get richer and the poor become poorer.
"In other leagues, clubs are compensated equally," he said.
"In England, Manchester United earn more than the others because they are the best team, or have been over the last few years. Money in England and Germany, for example, is distributed fairly and logically, whereas Madrid and Barca are allowed to monopolise the income in Spain.
"That has seen them overshadow their rivals at home - and the same thing is happening on a European level."
Television money in England and Germany, for example, is distributed fairly and logically, whereas Madrid and Barca are allowed to monopolise the income in Spain
Jose Maria Gay, Professor of Finance & Economics
Financial Fair Play regulations will force clubs to operate within their budgets going forward as teams will be forbidden to spend beyond their means. However, that situation will barely affect Spain's big two, due to their vast revenues.
On the field itself, Barcelona have won two of the last three Champions League titles, racking up a hat-trick of Liga successes in the process among numerous other silverware, while Madrid have regained a competitive edge under Jose Mourinho and are now - along with, arguably, Manchester United and this year, Bayern - the Catalans' main rivals in Europe, too.
"Both Barca and Madrid are doing well on the pitch, and that is reflected in their income," Gay added. "But their extra income in terms of television rights is likely to see them widen the gap in the coming seasons."
Indeed, with a fairer - yet still imbalanced - system for the distribution of television rights not to be introduced in Spain until 2015-16, Spain's top two seem certain to control the continent for the foreseeable future, perhaps even for the next decade.
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