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Manchester United still richest club in the world
February 17, 2005 11:48 IST
Manchester United are still the richest club in the world of football, as revenues from the game's top 20 teams heads towards the two billion pound ($3.78 billion) mark this year, a report showed on Thursday.
United's income of 171.5 million pounds ($323.8 million) for the 2003-04 season kept them top of the pile for the eighth year in a row, according to the Football Money League report published by consultants Deloitte.
Spanish giants Real Madrid are second with 156.3 million pounds after halving the gap with United since last year, while Italy's AC Milan are third on 147.2 million pounds.
Chelsea, bought by Russian oil tycoon Roman Abramovich in July 2003, and Barcelona, the team they face in the Champions League knockout phase at the Nou Camp next week, are the biggest movers up the rich list.
Both clubs have jumped six places, with Premier League leaders Chelsea rising to fourth on 143.7 million pounds and Primera Liga leaders Barcelona moving up to seventh on 112 million pounds.
Chelsea failed to win any silverware in Abramovich's first season but the appointment of Jose Mourinho, who replaced Claudio Ranieri as manager last June, and a further spending spree on players looks likely to pay handsome dividends.
Along with their Champions League campaign and top slot in the domestic league, Chelsea have a League Cup final with Liverpool on February 27 and are through to this weekend's FA Cup fifth round against Newcastle United.
Juventus slipped to fifth on 142.4 million pounds and English champions Arsenal lie sixth on 115 million pounds, just ahead of Barcelona, who have benefited from large rises in broadcasting and matchday revenue.
Barcelona's income should increase further after this season's Champions League run, though the Catalan club are still refusing any shirt sponsorship.
Arsenal can look forward to the future benefits of their new 60,000-seater Emirates Stadium, which is due to open for the 2006-07 season.
The remaining top 10 places are filled by Inter Milan (110.3 million pounds), Bayern Munich (110.1) and Liverpool (92.3) -- with Bayern having slipped from fifth place last year.
Underpinning the wealth of Europe's top clubs has been the advent of subscription television over the past 10 years -- a situation the report believes is unlikely to change.
"Football is critical to the development of a strong and sustainable subscriber base for Pay-TV broadcasters," said Deloitte partner Dan Jones.
"Pay-TV needs top-level football as much as football needs Pay-TV's revenues, and therefore we expect broadcasting revenues for the 'best properties' to hold their values."
Along with television, a key source of revenue is the clubs' stadia on match and non-match days.
This area, which includes restaurant and conference facilities, is one where the top English clubs are proving so successful that Real Madrid and AC Milan could soon find themselves being left behind.
"Non-UK clubs...do need to address this now," Jones said.
"With Chelsea's success and Arsenal's Emirates Stadium development, we can foresee a scenario where English clubs fill the top three places in the 2006-07 Money League."