Real Madrid still most valuable football club brand

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Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos and teammates celebrate with the trophy after winning La Liga, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium, Madrid, Spain, July 16, 2020.

Real Madrid remained the most valuable soccer club brand in the world for 2020, despite the economic and social disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new report.

The latest edition of Brand Finance Football Annual revealed that the global novel coronavirus outbreak has caused the total value of the world's top 50 soccer brands to decrease for the first time in six years, going down by 3.7 percent, with 751 million euros ($883 million) being wiped from the cumulative value.

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged soccer worldwide at all levels, with many leagues suffering lengthy interruptions before resuming matches behind closed doors, with no spectators. Matchday income for the five major leagues-English, German, Italian, French and Spanish-has been hugely impacted.

Broadcasting contracts also took a hit as EPL clubs were required to repay more than 330 million euros ($387 million) to domestic broadcasters (22 percent of the annual total) and the cancelled repayments in France's Ligue 1 were 243 million euros (28 percent of the total).

Richard Haigh, managing director of Brand Finance, said: "Top-level football has been confronted with the largest existential threat since World War II. 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," Haigh said.

Despite its brand value declining by 14 percent to 1.42 billion euros, Real Madrid retained its position at the top of the soccer industry table, boosted by the team winning Spain's La Liga championship for the first time since 2017.

Madrid's fiercest rival Barcelona is just 6 million euros behind with a brand value of 1.41 billion euros, supported by strong and diverse revenue generation, and continued domestic performance in Spain.

The top two Spanish clubs are followed by a cluster of EPL clubs, with Manchester United in third position after its brand value fell by 11 percent to 1.31 billion euros.

Liverpool, whose team this season won their first league title since 1990, jumped to fourth spot, one place above Manchester City in terms of brand value, rising 6 percent from 1.19 billion euros in 2019 to 1.26 billion euros.

Germany's all-conquering Bayern Munich ranked sixth. Bayern, one of the world's most proficient clubs in generating commercial income, has a brand value of 1.06 billion euros, 20 percent lower than a year ago.

Bayern's dominance in Germany is matched by Paris Saint-Germain in France, which ranked seventh overall with a brand value of 967 million euros.

English side Chelsea dropped one place in the table to eighth after their value fell for the fourth consecutive year, down to 949 million euros. 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.

Fellow London side Tottenham Hotspur, finally playing at its state-of-the-art new stadium, enjoyed a 3 percent improvement in their brand value to 784 million euros, with the promise of further growth as the team embarked on its first full season at their new home in 2019-20.

Arsenal is one of the biggest fallers, having lost 19 percent of its brand value and with its place in the top 10 in jeopardy, finishing outside the top 6 in the EPL for the first time in 25 years.

Italian clubs were absent from the top 10 altogether. Juventus was highest ranked at 11, with Inter Milan at 14, and AC Milan at 22.

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