Barcelona Keeps Top Spot in Soccer’s Money League by a Hair

FC Barcelona has only just managed to retain its position as the top-earning soccer club in Europe, even as the pandemic cost it 15% of sales.

Revenue at the Spanish club, which ended its first season without a trophy in more than a decade, dropped to 715.1 million euros ($867 million) in the 2019-2020 season from last year’s record 840.8 million euros, according to the latest Money League report from Deloitte. Real Madrid was a very close second with revenue of 714.9 million euros, 6% down from last year.

The top 20 teams by revenue in world soccer took in 8.2 billion euros last year, 12% less than in the 2018-2019 season, according to the report. They missed out on more than 1 billion euros in revenue from lost ticket sales and rebates on broadcast contracts as measures to contain the spread of Covid-19 hit live matches.

With lockdown measures restricting crowds in many European nations, the clubs will have missed out on more than 2 billion euros of revenue by the end of the current season.

“There is no doubt that this is one of the most testing times the football industry has ever had to endure,” Dan Jones, partner in the Deloitte Sports Business Group and editor of the report, said in a statement. “The final size of the financial impact of the pandemic on football will depend, in no small part, on the timing and scale of fans’ return.”

Manchester United remained the top-earning English team, even as its 19% revenue drop pushed it down one spot from last year to fourth place in the league table. Sales were also hurt by the team’s failure to qualify for the 2019-2020 UEFA Champions League.

Some of the top-ranked clubs are investigating other options for finance. Barcelona is considering inviting external investors to buy equity in a specially created company, Bloombergreported earlier this month.

The top 20 clubs saw an average revenue decline of 55 million euros on the previous year. Only two, FC Zenit and Everton, posted an increase.

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