Real Madrid ranked as Most Valuable Football Brand; Manchester City rise to second place

  • Real Madrid identified as the most valuable football brand in the world
  • The Spanish club also tops the “Brand Strength” ranking, ahead of Liverpool FC
  • Expert claims leading clubs’ brand ‘competes with those of Coca-Cola and Google’

Spanish club Real Madrid has been ranked as the world’s most valuable football brand in Brand Finance’s latest Deep Dive analysis. The report finds that major football clubs “are not just entertainment brands, they are also country brands” that boost their region’s GDP and sense of purpose, with the top teams’ brand strength “similar to that of Coca-Cola and Google”.

The Football 50 2022 report was released today by brand valuation consultancy Brand Finance. The release coincides with the end of most European football competitions, with the Champions League final being played later this week. The report ranks the top 50 football clubs by both brand equity (the present value of revenue in terms of brand reputation and revenue generated through the ownership and control of trademark rights) and brand strength (the metrics such as perception of the audience and the market measures market share and brand-related key performance indicators).

The headline reads that Real Madrid, who lifted the La Liga title last week, “achieved a rare double” by being ranked as the world’s most valuable football brand and the world’s strongest football brand. It is the first time that a single club has won both marque titles.

In terms of brand value, Real Madrid grew 19% year-on-year to £1.3bn, fueled – according to the report – by positive sales performance and a global survey that most likely ranked it as “the best club in the world”. “. While this year’s brand value has not yet passed its pre-pandemic peak, it represents an achievement for a club that on paper is widening the gap in the La Liga table between long-time rivals FC Barcelona.

That gap is also evident in this year’s rankings, with FC Barcelona slipping to third place in the rankings, overtaken by English Premier League winners Manchester City. Another notable drop is the latter’s regional rivals Manchester United, which has had a disappointing season and whose brand value ranking has fallen from third to fifth. Across the Channel, Paris Saint Germain saw a 16% increase in brand value, buoyed in part by the arrival of superstar Lionel Messi, often regarded as the greatest footballer of all time.

The top 10 football club brands:

  1. Real Madrid – £1.293 billion (+12.3% yoy)
  2. Manchester City – £1.126bn (+11.6%)
  3. FC Barcelona – £1.124bn (-1.7%)
  4. Liverpool FC – £1.079bn (+22.8%)
  5. Manchester United – £1.060bn (+4%)
  6. Bayern Munich – £940m (-2.4%)
  7. Paris Saint-Germain – £871m (+8.7%)
  8. Tottenham Hotspur – £740m (+13.4%)
  9. Chelsea FC – £725m (+4.4%)
  10. Arsenal FC – £672m (+10.4%)

In terms of brand strength (measured on a scale of up to 100), Real Madrid (94) takes the lead, followed by Liverpool FC (92.9), FC Barcelona (92.1), Manchester United (92) and FC Bayern Munich (88.6). The rise in brand strength for many clubs follows the re-emergence of reputation after the disastrous announcement of a European Super League (ESL), which was quickly scrapped. In the case of Liverpool, for example, the “clear and positive ownership reversal following the ESL fiasco” (including a personal apology from owner John W. Henry) resulted in the highest increase in brand strength of any club.

The results of the Brand Finance rankings are followed with great attention by clubs as commercial activities, licensing and branding are now an increasingly important part of the football industry. Football clubs are big business. Indeed, in the report, Real Madrid’s official website issued a press release about its success, while Italian club Juventus boasted about its “amazing 25% increase in brand value” and owning “the brand with the greatest financial value” about 30% of the total enterprise value” (Juventus introduced a new brand identity and logo in 2017).

The impact of strong football brands also resonates outside of club boardrooms. As the report describes, football remains the most popular sport in the world and the big clubs can shape and influence the perception of entire cities and countries – even more so than corporate brands. As described by Teresa de Lemus, Director of Brand Finance España: “Soccer brands are not just entertainment brands. They are also local brands or country brands. And as such, they are part of an industry that contributes greatly to countries’ GDP and sense of purpose. The connection between the city brand and the club brand is highly relevant and a powerful marketing tool. Both have the ability to attract tourism, give international visibility and influence each other.”

Additionally, football’s popularity means that the leading clubs – from Real Madrid to Manchester Utd – have some of the most recognizable global brands. According to David Haigh, CEO of Brand Finace, “such clubs have a similar brand strength as Coca-Cola and Google” – and this is likely to increase further (especially in the US, where the popularity of soccer has recently overtaken ice hockey).

Looking ahead, next week WTR will publish the next edition of its Trademark Premier League, in which we will look at the brand portfolios of football’s leading clubs and players (read last year’s edition here). While such IP protection is not the only factor when it comes to brand equity, it can demonstrate the importance clubs place on protecting and commercializing their brand assets.

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