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Real Madrid became the first team in any sport to post revenues in excess of €400 million (Dh1.98 billion) in a single year, according to an annual survey of the richest soccer clubs by accountancy firm Deloitte.
In its survey released yesterday, Deloitte said the figure of €401.4m had been helped by high broadcast revenue. Real topped the Football Money League report, which ranks the 20 biggest clubs by revenue, for the fifth consecutive year.
European and Spanish champions Barcelona overtook Manchester United, who were hit by the weak pound, to move to second.
Barcelona posted the largest absolute increase in the Deloitte report, from the 2008-09 season. The club's revenue rose by €57m to €366m.
"Real Madrid and FC Barcelona have created a clear revenue gap between themselves and their European competitors, and look set to contest the top two positions in the Money League for the foreseeable future, particularly if the pound doesn't strengthen against the euro," Alan Switzer, Director in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said in a statement.
Top clubs weathered the worst economic crisis in decades thanks to their loyal fan bases and large broadcast audiences, according to the report. The combined revenue growth for the 20 clubs slowed compared with previous years to over €3.9bn.
"However, it will not be until 2009-10, the season currently in progress, before we see the full impact on clubs' revenues," said Paul Rawnsley, Director in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.
The top 20 was little changed from last year, with Werder Bremen and Manchester City replacing VfB Stuttgart and Turkish club Fenerbahce. The list was again dominated by European clubs, with seven English clubs, four from Italy, and two each from France and Spain. The number of German clubs grew to five from four.
Real Madrid has topped the 'rich list' for the past five years but Barcelona's unprecedented success last season where they won five trophies has seen them overtake United despite a nine per cent rise in income at Old Trafford.
The overwhelming dominance of Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain is shown by the fact that no other La Liga side occupy a top 20 place, while there is a strong sprinkling of Italian and German clubs, including Bayern Munich who are fourth.
The most notable change in the list, based on clubs' revenue excluding transfer fees, sees Arsenal leapfrog Chelsea, with the Gunners recording a seven per cent rise in revenue to £224m (Dh1.2bn) compared to their London rivals' £206m – a three per cent fall in revenue.
Dan Jones, partner in the sports business group at Deloitte, told Press Association Sport: "Chelsea's revenue has dropped because last season was a bit worse than usual on the pitch, they had frozen season ticket prices and there was not a lot going on in big commercial developments.
"Arsenal have the advantage in matchday income with a new 60,000-seater stadium and they made the semifinals of both the Champions League and the FA Cup.
"All the English clubs were impacted by the continuing depreciation of the pound against the euro and the scale of this is shown by the fact that if exchange rates remained at their June 2007 level, Manchester United would be top of the money league table."
Liverpool, who enjoyed an 11 per cent revenue increase, rose a place to seventh above Italian giants AC Milan.
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