Real Madrid and Barcelona neck-and-neck as world’s most valuable football brands in the face of COVID-19

Home » Real Madrid and Barcelona neck-and-neck as world’s most valuable football brands in the face of COVID-19
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  • Real Madrid remain world’s most valuable football brand, but Barcelona narrow the gap to just €6 million
  • COVID-19 causes total brand value of top 50 clubs to decrease for the first time in 6 years – €751 million or 3.7% is knocked off
  • English clubs dominate the ranking with six brands in top 10 and 19 in top 50
  • Liverpool inches two spots up into 4th place, following historic Premier League win
  • Bundesliga’s 1. FC Köln is this year’s fastest-growing brand, followed by Leicester City and RB Leipzig – all recording over 40% growth
  • Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium takes top spot in Buro Happold’s Venue Performance Rating

Real Madrid remain the most valuable football club brand in the world for 2020, according to the latest edition of the Brand Finance Football Annual. Boosted by winning the LaLiga title for the first time since 2017, the club retained its position at the top of the table in the football industry, but against a backdrop of economic and social disruption, caused primarily by the COVID-19 pandemic, Real Madrid’s brand value has declined by 14% to €1,419 million.

Real Madrid’s disappointing on-pitch performance prior to 2019-20, which saw an earlier-than-normal exit from the UEFA Champions League in 2018-19 and a second successive season adrift of LaLiga champions Barcelona, eroded the club’s dominance of the Brand Finance ranking. The situation was exacerbated by COVID-19, along with a lack of stability around the management of the team. Barcelona, Real’s fierce rivals, are just €6 million behind Real with a brand value of €1,413 million, supported by strong and diverse revenue generation and continued domestic performance in Spain.

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COVID-19 knocks off €751 million of brand value

Real Madrid is not the only club to see a drop in brand value this year. COVID-19 has caused the total value of the top 50 football brands to decrease for the first time in 6 years. Through its effect on the three main revenue streams – Matchday, Broadcasting, and Commercial – €751 million or 3.7% has been knocked off the cumulative brand value of the world’s top 50 most valuable football clubs.

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged professional football worldwide and across all levels. Matchday income for the 501 games remaining in the big 5 leagues dropped to zero, but it is often the smaller clubs and leagues which are more reliant on this revenue stream – in Scotland it makes up 43% of total revenue, compared to only 13% in England.

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There have been some positive signs, as Southampton vs Manchester City on BBC broke the Premier League TV audience record with 5.7 million viewers, but the longer-term damage to the game’s economic structure has yet to be revealed.

Richard Haigh, Managing Director of Brand Finance, commented:

“Top-level football has been confronted with the largest existential threat since the Second World War. Loss of income, coupled with health concerns about mass gatherings, have raised question marks about the future of the industry and the financial resilience of clubs across all levels. The full damage of the COVID-19 crisis has yet to unfold and it is not inconceivable there will be casualties in the form of club bankruptcies and changes in ownership.”

Despite the huge implications of COVID-19 for football clubs and their financial results, the majority of the brand value is secured by the clubs’ long-term future – provided they can survive the initial shock. For example, only 21% of Real Madrid’s brand value is delivered by the next five years’ financial results.

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Premier power

Real Madrid and Barcelona are followed by a cluster of English Premier League clubs in the Brand Finance Football Annual 2020 ranking, with Manchester United in 3rd position after their brand value fell by 11% to €1,314 million. Liverpool, who won their first league title since 1990 in runaway style, are in 4th spot jumping above Manchester City in terms of brand value, rising from €1,191 million in 2019 to €1,262 million, a 6% increase. Chelsea dropped one place in the table to 8th after their value fell for the fourth consecutive year to €949 million. This was arguably due to the club being absent from the UEFA Champions League and also suffering a transfer ban after being charged with breaking Financial Fair Play Regulations.

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