Real Madrid named world’s most powerful football club

Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos and Marcelo celebrate the Champions League title at Cibeles Fountain. (Reuters)

Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos and Marcelo celebrate the Champions League title at Cibeles Fountain. (Reuters)

Real Madrid have surpassed Barcelona as the world’s most powerful football club brand, according to a new report by Brand Finance.

The annual Brand Finance Football 50 report analysed the 2016-2017 football season to look at how the performance of football clubs affect their brand power. Brand Finance looked at factors such as on-pitch performance, squad size and value, fan satisfaction, stadium capacity and revenue to value each team; altogether the metrics create a Brand Strength Index (BSI) out of 100.

The report attributed Real Madrid’s successful season to winning their 33rd La Liga title – a record for the tournament – and their 12th Champions League victory, edging them up to a BSI of 94.6 from 96.1 in 2015. Barcelona has a BSI of 95.4.

Manchester United was considered the most valuable football team at $1.733-billion, compared to Real Madrid’s $1.419 billion.
Although the report attributed this success partly to the sustained legacy of Alex Ferguson, “the most crucial ingredient has been the club’s commercial nous and ability to convert its success into lucrative deals across dozens of industry sectors and national territories”.

David Haigh, chief executive of Brand Finance, suggested, that Real Madrid could leverage its new title as most powerful brand to create a stronger sponsorship valuation.

“Real must now pay as careful attention to its off-pitch strategy as it does to its on-pitch performance. Newfound status as the world’s most powerful brand ought to provide the club with ammunition in ongoing discussions with Emirates to renegotiate the shirt sponsorship; Real must not miss the opportunity,” Haigh said in the report.

The report also found that six of the top 10 most valuable football brands were English, citing that the Premier League has an important presence in the valuation of teams. Chelsea and Tottenham made the biggest strides, up 61% and 58% in brand value respectively. The growth in valuation comes from Chelsea’s £900-million deal with Nike and a planned 50% capacity increase at Stamford Bridge. Tottenham’s revamped White Hart Lane will provide 61 000-person capacity for its stadium.

The Premier League teams have also enjoyed additional revenue from broadcasting rights deals with Sky and BT.

Newcastle was found to be this year’s fastest growing brand, with an increase of 92% putting their valuation at $247-million.

Juventus saw a brand value increase of 72% partly because of their eligibility for the Champions League and a Serie A win. But the report argued that, like Real Madrid, the Italian club wasn’t commercialising enough on its successes.

The only Russian team to make the top 50 was Zenit St Petersburg. Its commercial revenue of €168-million was “the primary driver of brand value,” the report said.

But there is limited interest in the Russian Premier League and the country is making slow progress in acting against homophobia and racism in sport. The report suggested 2018 might be a good opportunity for Russian clubs to gain a larger fan base and commercial partnerships.

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