Manchester United have been named the world's highest grossing club in the 2015-16 edition of Deloitte’s Football Money League.
The study, which is the 20th annual check on the finances of the planet’s top clubs, has placed the Red Devils in pole position ahead of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Madrid slip to third having topped the standings when the previous edition was published 12 months ago.
United's income has jumped dramatically over that intervening period from £395.2 million to £515.3m. That gives them a significant advantage of over 10 per cent to second-placed Barcelona (£463.8m) and third-placed Madrid, who are less than £100,000 behind their great rivals.
Two new clubs break into the top 20, with West Ham moving into 18th and Premier League champions Leicester City sneaking in at 20th following their dramatic success last season.
The headlines, though, are dominated by United, who move back to the dominant spot in the League for the first time since 2003-04, boasting formidable growth well in excess of the average of 12% - a record in itself – mustered by clubs in the top 20 as a whole. It is the first time in 11 years that Real Madrid have not taken first place.
United's revenue is the highest ever recorded for a football club and while this was partly due to the club’s return to the Champions League, they also enjoyed a significant jump in commercial revenue growth of £71m. Now, they earn more money in that department than any other club in the world, with PSG having previously held that accolade.
But while their success is commendable, the experts believe it will be a challenge for them to maintain their status.
Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, commented: “Manchester United have had to wait 11 years to regain their position as the world’s leading revenue-generating club and it has taken phenomenal commercial revenue growth to help them achieve this.
"In recent years, their ability to secure commercial partnerships with value in excess of that achievable by their peers has been the crucial factor in enabling the club to regain their place at the top of the Money League.
“That said, they’ll face strong competition from Barcelona and Real Madrid to retain the top spot in next year’s edition due to their lack of Champions League football, the weakening of the pound against the euro and, over the longer term, as other clubs enter the commercial market demanding similar deals, using United as the precedent.”
United also lead the way in terms of revenue generated by matchday income (£102.8m) but their broadcast revenue of £140.4m is ranked only seventh in the world. Madrid continue to lead the way in that regard at £170.3m, followed by Manchester City’s £161.4m.