We are reaching the point in the season where even the mathematicians are coming around to what everyone in the football world has known since November – City’s grip on the Premier League table is vice-like and one that will not be denied. However, while the Sky Blues are clearly the most talented team in the Premier League – some say the best team ever – there is one table in which neighbours Manchester United still reign supreme.
Show us the money
The Deloitte Football Money League is an economic league table of the top revenue generating clubs in football. The accountancy firm has been compiling the list for the past 20 years, and as ever, the flavour is as English as fish and chips.
Ten Premier League teams feature in the top 20. While the Big Six plus Leicester come as no surprise, they are joined by the ever-popular West Ham and new entrants Everton and Southampton. Yet it is at the top of the table that the real attention is focussed, and this is where United holds sway.
Top positions too tight for bookmakers to call
There are parallels between the money league and the Premier League. In the latter, City might have the title, but the runner up spots are too close for bookmakers to call – just take a look through the list of bookmakers on http://www.bestbettingsites.uk/. Best Betting Sites guru James Thompson says punters who shop around can get an astonishing range of odds on how positions 2-6 in the table will pan out, not to mention a diverse range of offers.
Similarly, the Deloitte table was certainly no foregone conclusion. The figures examine revenue generated in the previous season, and it was United’s emotional victory in the Europa League that made all the difference, as they pipped second place Real Madrid by less than £1.5 million.
It sounds like a lot of money until you realise that United generated just over £581 million and Real £580 million. In those terms, the difference was a matter of pocket change.
What are the drivers?
Five years ago, this writer was crossing by land between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. It was as grim, bureaucratic and unnerving as it sounds, but a ray of light came when, on spotting an Englishman, a gold-tooth local cheerfully shouted: “Prince Charles! Margaret Thatcher! Manchester United!”
This might be an unscientific way to assess the nation’s top exports, but it demonstrates the global power of the United brand. There are Reds fans in far-flung corners of the world, who would not have the first idea about finding Manchester on a map.
Does that mean this is one table in which United will always hold sway over City? Not necessarily. We have seen it with Liverpool, and the same can happen with Manchester – global glory hunters need winners, and they will be flocking to the blue in their droves.
There is also the factor that fans buying shirts are becoming an increasingly marginal contributor to overall revenue as TV coverage, online streaming and corporate sponsorship deals grow exponentially higher year on year.