Soccer: Covid-19 notwithstanding,
the money keeps rolling in

di Priscilla Pajdo del May 19, 2021

When considering the world’s wealthiest sports teams, soccer clubs draw in big money. In 2020, the combined value among the top 10 giants was about $36.5 Billion USD, according to the Forbes list of the world’s richest soccer clubs.

So as not to offend any Juventus fans, Italy’s most valuable club appears on the list at number eleven, with a market value worth nearly $2 B. The collective value of these top-ranking clubs is closer to $38 B. In terms of annual revenue, this list of top money-generating clubs amount to $6.6 B.

Americans may love their football, but from a global perspective, interest in soccer reigns supreme. For instance, according to FIFA, 1.1 billion viewers tuned into the 2018 World Cup final. The average viewership for the 2020 Super Bowl pales by comparison at an estimated 150 million viewers worldwide at best.

The impacts of Covid-19 have not left the world of sports unscathed. Lockdowns and social distancing have had a monumental impact on the world of soccer, both financially and for its fan base. For more than one year, stadiums have been shuttered to in-person spectators. The full fiscal impact for the 2020/2021 season is yet to be determined.

However, the losses experienced in 2020 portray a grim situation. These top soccer clubs have suffered a $669 Million loss in revenue from the season ending in 2019.

The world’s wealthiest soccer club, FC Barcelona, reported an annual revenue of $824 M in 2019. One year later, that figure plunged to $792 M, a loss of $32 M. Despite this loss in revenue, the club’s market value increased by $550 M over the same period to a total value of $4.76 B. (See Graph 1 above)

Spain’s second richest soccer club, Real Madrid, have been ravaged by the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. In 2020, this club also reported $792 M in annual revenue. However, that figure represents a loss of more that $100 M from 2019, roughly three times the loss than that of Barcelona. (see graph 2 below)

Among the top wealthiest clubs, Manchester United, suffered the greatest drop in revenue. In 2020, the club reported an annual revenue of $643, a loss of $152 M from the previous year.

Surprisingly, over one year into the pandemic, with limited attendance and declining revenue, the world of football has not given in. Astonishingly, the collective market value of these top teams have increased by 30% in the last year.

With dropping Covid-19 cases, easing of restrictions and vaccination rates on the rise, stadiums may soon start to welcome back the sport’s adoring fans, a key element in the reversal of the downward trend in revenue.

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