Real Madrid named most valuable soccer brand

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Atletico Madrid's Rodrigo Hernandez (L) competes with Real Madrid's Karim Benzema during a Spanish league match between Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in Madrid, Spain, on Feb. 9, 2019. Atletico Madrid lose 1-3. (Xinhua/Edward F. Peters)

Real Madrid has retaken the crown as the world's most valuable soccer brand, surpassing Manchester United, according to a new report.

Brand Finance, a London-based independent brand valuation consultancy, revealed its annual Football 50 ranking of the sport's most valuable brands on Thursday.

With a brand value of 1.646 billion euros ($1.86 billion), Real Madrid is ahead of a peer group of 1 billion-euro-plus brands that includes Manchester United (1.472 billion euros), Barcelona (1.393 billion euros), Bayern Munich (1.314 billion euros), Manchester City (1.255 billion euros), and Liverpool (1.191 billion euros).

The six clubs account for more than 40 percent of the overall brand value in the rankings, highlighting the concentration of wealth and the creation of a set of "super clubs".

The Spanish soccer club returned to the top of the ranking after almost a decade since it last held the title in 2010. The club's brand value has grown 27 percent since last year, an increase partly attributable to the club winning a fourth UEFA Champions League in five years in 2018.

Bryn Anderson, director at Brand Finance, said: "Real Madrid has shown this year who truly reigns supreme in the world of football.

"They triumph not only as the most valuable and strongest brand but their enterprise value and stadium are also ranked second to none," Anderson said. "The most successful club in the history of European football is finally reaping the benefits of decades of spectacular on-and off-pitch performance."

Real Madrid's return to the top pushes Manchester United into second place, as the Red Devils' brand value declined for the first time since 2016, making a slight 5.8 percent drop this year from a value of 1.562 billion euros in 2018.

Manchester United has disappointed in recent years, both in the Premier League and in the UEFA Champions League. Public perceptions of the brand have deteriorated too, as the club ranks only 18th among the world's top clubs with regards to "playing exciting football", as revealed by Brand Finance's original fan research.

To a certain degree, Manchester United has been cast into the shadows in their domestic market by neighbor Manchester City, which won the Premier League in both 2018 and 2019.

Despite on-pitch success, Manchester City, however, could be facing its own problems as they are being investigated for potential breach of UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations, which could potentially lead to a Champions League ban.

Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur are flying the flag for English soccer this year having reached the final of the UEFA Champions League. Both clubs improved their brand value by 20 percent to 1.191 billion euros and 758 million euros respectively, the highest growth rates in the top 10 after Real Madrid's 27 percent and Paris Saint-Germain's 21 percent.

Tottenham in particular continue to win plaudits for their commitment to a progressive style of soccer and youth development.

While their new 62,000-capacity home ground was being built, Tottenham were playing at Wembley, which provided the opportunity to grow match-day revenues.

Their new stadium should enable them to maintain momentum in this income stream as well as monetize new facilities through other non-soccer events. Their financial position was highlighted by record post-tax profits of 131 million euros in 2017-18, but their success in Europe in 2018-19 should allow the club to further invest in its playing resources and strengthen their ability to compete at the highest level.

In other European markets, the Bundesliga is still the best supported league in terms of attendances, thanks to sensitive pricing, high levels of fan engagement, and strong community links.

The German league has 13 clubs in the 50 ranking, with Bayern Munich in the top four. The gap between Bayern Munich and its Bundesliga rivals explains why the Bavarians have been able to dominate domestic soccer since 2012 – their brand value is more than double Borussia Dortmund's, their nearest competitor.

It is a similar story in Spain with Real Madrid and Barcelona compared to the other LaLiga clubs, and the same in France with Paris Saint-Germain.

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