How do Manchester United stand with regards to UEFA’s pending ruling

It is likely that in 2013 UEFA will implement a new set of fair play rules. UEFA will stipulate clubs to be more self-sufficient. The result will be that clubs with the largest revenues will be able to spend the most money. This has been seen, in many ways, as a fair system and will prevent rich owners from dramatically changing the face of a domestic football league.

This has been seen in England in the last ten years with the extravagant spending by Chelsea and Manchester City. Roman Abramovich and Sheik Mansour are among the richest men in the world and have had a dramatic effect on English football.

What I want to look at here are the revenue stream of Manchester United. Why is revenue important? It is that figure that will dictate how much money clubs will be able to spend in the future.

What is interesting from the Money League is that Manchester United may be the biggest club in England, but their total revenue is not anywhere near that of top of the list Real Madrid. One reason for this would obviously because of the weakening of the pound against the Euro, but this is not the only reason for disparity.

Total Revenue (£m)
1R. Madrid438.6
3Man Utd.349.8
11Man City152.8


Manchester United may be one of the ‘biggest’ clubs in the world but it only generates the 6th highest broadcasting revenue, and generated £40.1m less than Barcelona in 2010 despite playing in the Champions League and coming runners-up the Premiership. This is because Spanish and Italian leagues allow clubs to organise their own private TV deals for domestic League games. The English and German leagues sell their TV rights collectively and split the money between clubs more equally.

TeamTotal Broadcasting Revenue (£m)
3AC Milan115.5
6Man U104.8


Furthermore, in 2005, Manchester United made more money from commercial deals than Barcelona. However, looking at the same side’s commercial revenue from 2010, you see that is no longer the case.

Commercial Revenue 2005 (£m)Commercial Revenue 2010 (£m)
R. Madrid83.7Bayern141.6
Bayern79.3R. Madrid123.5
Man United48.7Man United81.4
AC Milan39.1Liverpool 62.1
Liverpool 38.3AC Milan51.9
Chelsea37.2Man City46.7


In 2005, Barcelona earned less than Manchester United (England’s richest club). By 2010 they earn £20m more. However, unlike with broadcasting deals (where Spanish clubs organise private TV deals), and match-day revenue (where some clubs have old stadiums), the reason for the gap between the best English clubs and their Spanish counter parts is not obvious.

Looking at Barcelona as a brand, they are very individual and marketable. The style of football they play is synonymous with the football club. And it is attractive football. They have also seen more on-field success than Manchester United in the last 5 years. Their rise is due to their own on-pitch success rather than the fault of Manchester United.

The worrying thing for the Premier League is that while the arrangement of individual TV rights exists in Spain exists, teams in England will never be able to compete with biggest Spanish and Italian clubs in terms of TV revenue. Juventus did not qualify for the Champions League this year, but still had a higher total revenue from broadcasting than Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea who have all played in the competition for the last two years.

So while Manchester United may compete with the biggest clubs in Europe on match-day revenue and, to an extent, commercial revenue, they fall far behind in total revenue due to the difference in structure of the way La Liga organizes broadcasting deals.

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