The reign of Spain's big two as European football's top earners continued unchecked for a fourth successive year but could come under threat from Manchester, with United in particular buoyed by the Premier League's forthcoming record television deal and a record shirt sponsorship, while City too have elbowed their way up to Europe's top table.
Last year, Real Madrid amassed record revenue, becoming the first sports club to bring in more than €500m (£420m), according to figures released today by Deloitte in its annual Money League. Barcelona widened the gap on United, ranked third, thanks to the Old Trafford club's barren campaign on the pitch. But with United set for a £30m boost from next season via the new TV deal and the start of a sponsorship deal with General Motors worth £45m-plus per season from 2014, the club will close the gap.
"Manchester United continue to successfully leverage their global brand," said Austin Houlihan of Deloitte. "The world-record seven-year shirt sponsorship deal... combined with new Premier League broadcast deals will help United push the two Spanish clubs."
Real and United meet in the Champions League next month and on-field success remains key to a club's level of revenue. City and Chelsea are indebted to their domestic and European successes respectively. City's rise into the Deloitte top 10 for the first time follows a first title in 44 years and a first Champions League campaign that quadrupled their European broadcast income to £22.5m despite its early end.
Seven Premier League clubs are in the top 20 – Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle are also there – to five from Serie A, four from the Bundesliga, two from France and the two from La Liga.
Deloitte Football Money League (2011-12 revenue) 1 (1) Real Madrid £414.7m; 2 (2) Barcelona £390.8m; 3 (3) Manchester United £320.3m; 4 (4) Bayern Munich £298.1m; 5 (5) Chelsea £261m; 6 (6) Arsenal £234.9m; 7 (12) Manchester City £231.1m; 8 (7) Milan £207.9m; 9 (9) Liverpool £188.7m; 10 (13) Juventus £158.1m. (Last season's position in brackets)