The Sixth-Best Soccer Team in England Is the World’s Richest – Bloomberg

Manchester United’s least-winning season in the Premier League hasn’t prevented the 20-time English champion from taking a clear lead atop a list of soccer’s most-valuable clubs.

United, which finished sixth in the league and hasn’t won it since storied coach Alex Ferguson stepped down in 2013, increased its value to 3.1 billion euros ($3.5 billion), according to accounting firm KPMG. That moved the club owned by the U.S.-based Glazer family ahead of Spanish giant Real Madrid, with whom it shared top spot last year.

United’s ascendancy is all the more remarkable given that the team was absent from Europe’s elite Champions League for the entire year. Its domestic standing would have ruled the club out for another 12 months, though victory in the second-tier Europa League qualified it to play at the highest level of European soccer next season, preventing the loss of millions in sponsorship income, including from its apparel provider Adidas AG.

Basing its valuations on publicly available financial information, KPMG found the 32 teams included in its study had a combined value of 29.9 billion euros, 14 percent higher than in 2016, the first year the report was published. About a third of that value is concentrated in just three teams: United, Real Madrid and F.C. Barcelona.

United, which is now coached by Jose Mourinho, broke the transfer record last season, paying 89 million pounds ($114 million) to bring former youth team player Paul Pogba back from Juventus. His arrival failed to spark a major upturn in the team’s playing fortunes, with its 18 Premier League wins being the lowest since the league was formed in 1992.

At $3.5 billion, Manchester United would be worth more than the stock market suggests. The New York-listed stock is up more than 20 percent this year, giving a market value of $2.8 billion. Real Madrid drops a place in the rankings despite winning its first Spanish title in five years and qualifying for the Champions League final that will be played in Cardiff on June 3.

The Premier League has six of the ten most valuable clubs this year. England’s top tier consistently generated higher revenues than its European rivals, and has just completed the first season of its most-lucrative television contract, which meant the last-placed team Sunderland received 100 million pounds in centrally distributed revenue.

“In terms of media rights value, the English Premier League sits comfortably at the top of European leagues, although other major leagues have outlined well-defined strategies to compete for the attention of global fans,” said Andrea Sartori, KPMG’s global head of sports and the report’s author.

Real Madrid’s opponent in Saturday’s final, Juventus, is the only Italian team to make KPMG’s top ten. The value of Italy’s champion has increased 24 percent year-on-year, according to the report.

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