Football is the most popular sport in the world, and so it is understandable that the biggest football clubs will also be some of the most famous and recognizable brands in the world. The ongoing pandemic has not changed that; in fact, football has become even more popular during this time, as fans have turned to online video games and even real money casinos online, along with other means to stay connected with their favourite sport. The FIFA video game series has been one of these ways, as many leagues started their own FIFA competitions to provide engagement and content with fans during the time when live sports could not be played. With most of the major leagues now returning to finish off their seasons, and the Champions League also being concluded via a knockout tournament in August, we are seeing the anticipation build up for the new season, and as always, the new FIFA game. FIFA 21 is set to launch on 6th October, with a whole host of new features, updates and some new teams and leagues as well. Of course, all the latest transfers that take place over the next few weeks will be part of the game as well, but one of the deciding factors behind these transfers is the relative size and wealth of clubs.
The ongoing pandemic has had a significant impact on the financial side of football. Clubs have been losing out on matchday revenue as their matches have been held behind closed doors in the leagues which have restarted, or have seen the leagues be suspended altogether for the season. Further, commercial rights and sponsorship values have also fallen as economies and companies all over the world continue to struggle. In such a scenario, brand values and income has fallen for clubs all over the world. Nevertheless, Real Madrid have remained as the most valuable football club in the world, according to the Brand Finance Football annual study. Their brand value has declined by 14% to €1,419 million, however. At same time, Barcelona have managed to catch up to Real Madrid, with the Catalan club only €6 million behind their fierce rivals for brand value. A combination of the financial impact of the ongoing pandemic, an earlier exit from last season’s Champions League tournament, and another loss to Barcelona in La Liga last season, were the reasons for this. However, Madrid have won La Liga this season, which is sure to have a positive impact on their brand value for next year’s report.
The impact of COVID-19 can be seen by the fact that the top 50 football clubs have all seen their brand value decrease this year. The pandemic has had an adverse effect on all three major income streams for football clubs – broadcasting, matchday and commercial, and so we have seen almost 4% or €751 million being lost cumulatively across these clubs. Matchday income has dropped to zero across all the leagues, but clubs in the smaller leagues are going to be hit much harder by this – for example, matchday income makes up 43% of total revenue for clubs in the Scottish top-flight, while it is just 13% for clubs in the English Premier League.
The two Spanish clubs are followed by a bunch of Premier League clubs in these rankings, with Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City taking up the next three spots. Chelsea are the other English club in the top 10, falling to 8th place on the back of losing out on the Champions League, as well as having been hit with a transfer ban for falling foul of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations.