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Manchester United topple Real Madrid in soccer’s rich list but shopaholic Chinese clubs miss the cut

Red Devils see growth in match day, broadcast and commercial revenues as other Premier League sides also prosper

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 1:10pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 January, 2017, 9:15pm

The latest Money League compiled annually by financial wizards Deloitte is a football rich list for all men, and adversaries.

It put an ear-to-ear grin on the prawn- munching Manchester United supporters from the stockbroker belt; Brexiters (those who voted for the United Kingdom to exit the European Union) were sent cock-a-hoop, while long-faced remoaners (those who didn’t) became even dourer and more spiteful; football’s class war warriors, who detest the relentless corporatisation of their game, were given more reason to seethe while the goading panda bashers, who would do anything to see China’s quest for world football domination fail, punched the air with delight.

After a 13-year absence, Deloitte’s number crunchers returned Manchester United – with a record revenue – to the top of the pile, prising away Real Madrid’s 11-year stranglehold as well as outstripping global bandwagons Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and several Italian giants.

Old Trafford’s resurgence is a result of significant growth across all three of the revenue categories – match day, broadcast and commercial – compared with 2014-15, said Deloitte.

United fans will pray topping the money mountain is a harbinger of better times to come on the pitch, too.

For Brexiters and the UK government tasked with navigating a messy divorce from the EU, the financial clout and attraction of United and the seven other EPL sides strutting their stuff in the top 20 on the world’s rich list – as well as flashing brand Britain during televised games from Arusha to Zagreb – is a welcome dollop of soft power and more evidence everything is coming up roses after the earthquake referendum result seven months ago.

Manchester United go top of the table (in soccer’s global rich list) again after 11 years behind Real Madrid

The sensitive remoaners, aka remainers, had a rare, albeit brief, reason to be cheerful. In their next breath, Deloitte were quick to warn Manchester United’s rich-list glory could be short-lived because the latest figures were compiled using average exchange rates in the 12 months before June 30 last year.

Next year’s list will factor in the UK pound’s tail spin in value against the euro since the Brexit vote, and this will have a negative effect for those rich English clubs, especially United as they have no Champions League income to count on this season.

This will make it “challenging” for the Manchester United to top the list next year, said Deloitte. You could hear the remoaners cry “huzzah – told you so”.

Class warriors who have long decried all the fast and flash money degrading the game beyond decency will be inspired to launch more protests after digesting the other seven English clubs making the rich list.

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Once-minnow family clubs Leicester City and West Ham were not too long ago trading in the innocence of cheering your team on with ticket, hot beverage and soggy pie that would not break the bank.

Now they are up there with fat cats Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City, Arsenal and Chelsea.

To anger the Trots more, Deloitte said with “firm belief” that all the EPL clubs will break financial records next year, and that due to the effect of the new £8.3 billion (HK$79b) TV deals, 10 of the top 20 richest in 2016-17 will be from the Premier League.

“We can expect Everton and Southampton to be in the top 20 – and possibly even Stoke,” concluded the report.

Stoke, for heaven’s sake, inside the exclusive members-only club, swirling their brandy glasses and mixing it in the cigar lounge with the big money boys.

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Current champions Leicester are expected to climb from 20th spot next year due to the income from their Champions League campaign – which will be well over the £60 million mark.

The latest list showed signs of growth in countries such as Turkey and Russia to counter the EPL’s dominance.

And what of the mega bucks, shopaholic Chinese clubs on this ostentatious list, you may ask? Ah, there’s the rub.

Despite all the spending and high-profile players arriving for loony sums, there is still no threat of serious commercial competition (nor of the sporting kind, for that matter) from Chinese clubs, according to Deloitte.

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The turnover of the 16 teams in the Chinese Super League is tiny by comparison – between £11 million and £45 million.

Never mind, China. You know what they say about cynics – they know the price of everything and the value of nothing.