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Real the world's richest club

Date: Friday, February 17 @ 00:45:11 CST
By Stephen Fry

Real Madrid has overtaken Manchester United to become the richest club in world football, ending the English club's eight-year reign at the top.

The Football Money League report published by consultants Deloitte on Thursday also shows that combined revenues from the game's top 20 earning teams broke through the three billion euros (2 billion pounds) barrier for the first time.

Real's income of 275.7 million euros (188 million pounds) for the 2004-05 season saw the club's revenue grow 17 percent year-on-year, dislodging United (168 million pounds) from top spot for the first time in the report's nine-year history.

Much of Real's success was down to the Spanish club capitalizing on the global appeal of players like David Beckham, Zinedine Zidane, and Ronaldo, the report said.

"Real have transformed their revenues, doubling them in only four years," said Deloitte partner Dan Jones. "Although President Florentino Perez's strategy of galactico' players has not necessarily delivered the anticipated on-pitch results recently, their presence has facilitated a transformation in the club's financial performance," he added


Italy's AC Milan remained third on 234 million euros, while Serie A rivals Juventus, who clinched their 28th scudetto last season, were next after seeing a seven percent rise in revenue despite having the lowest average attendance in the top 20.

Champions Chelsea bought and bankrolled by Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich since July 2003 slipped a place to fifth with 220.8 million after being last year's highest climbers.

Barcelona , who plays Chelsea in the Champions League knockout phase next week, moved up a place after a 23 percent rise in revenue, helped by winning the Spanish title and despite continuing to resist taking any lucrative shirt sponsorship

The remaining top 10 places are filled by Bayern Munich (189.5 million euros) European champions Liverpool (181.2), Inter Milan (177.2) and Arsenal (171.3)


The report points to a possible shift away from the dominance of English and Italian clubs, with a rise in the status of French and German teams predicted.

"During the next few seasons, we expect to see a stronger financial showing from German and French clubs. In each country there are new broadcast deals that will significantly enhance clubs' revenue," it says.

Stadia development of more than a billion euros ahead of the 2006 World Cup in Germany will also provide select Bundesliga club's "with the opportunity to increase both matchday and non-matchday revenue, as many UK clubs have over the past decade".

Real Madrid , though, remain the success story with a business model other clubs should be looking to emulate. Broken the mould' in terms of revenue growth for football... it is the club's ability to grow commercial revenues that has guided it to the top of the Money League," said Deloitte sports business consultant Austin Houlihan.

"Whilst many clubs have championed the potential of capitalizing on the interest in their club outside their domestic market, Real have been successful at actually realizing this potential."

Real Madrid has overtaken Manchester United to become the richest club in world football, ending the English club's eight-year reign at the top.

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