Manchester City Beats Real Madrid in Brand Value, According to a New Survey

PERFECT PITCH: Professional football — better known as soccer in the U.S. — thrives on rivals, sponsorships and moneymaking ventures. Now Manchester City FC has reached a new benchmark by surpassing Real Madrid CF to become the world’s most valuable soccer brand, according to a just-released annual report.

The Manchester-based club saw its brand value shoot up 13 percent — to just over 1.5 billion euros, according to the annual report released by Brand Finance. Conversely, Real Madrid CF, which held the stop slot for the past four years, saw its brand value decline 4 percent to just shy of 1.5 billion euros. The top-valued team is also known as the “Sky Blues,” a reference to their preferred colors dating back to 1894, when they were originally known as Ardwick FC.

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Puma and Dsquared2 are among the sponsors of Manchester City. Adidas and Zegna are among those supporting Real Madrid.

But Manchester City has been generating more green as of late. Its brand value hiked up 34 percent, since the COVID-19 pandemic, and now rests at an all-time high. Manchester City has the highest revenue in this year’s report, due primarily to its on-field performance, including its recent win over Real Madrid CF in the Champions League semi-finals. In addition, the club’s successes in major tournaments have led to major broadcasting revenues and additional global brand exposure and popularity.

Looking ahead, a 300 million euro investment in their Etihad Stadium is in the works and the club is vying for a Champions League win — the golden ring that Sheikh Mansour, who took over the club 15 years ago, has been seeking. Real Madrid’s day-to-day operations are led by Spanish businessman Florentino Perez but the club — which has 14 continental titles — is one of the last fan-owned ones in the world. Fans or “socios,” as they are known, can pay a yearly 150 euro membership fee, and after 50 years the membership fee is waived.

Manchester City has been building a base through other forms of investment. In 2019, the-then Premier League champion Manchester City became the first billion-dollar team, after investing 1.01 billion ($1.12 billion) in its squad. Despite Manchester City’s bolstered branding, the club stands on somewhat shaky ground considering the Premier League has charged the club with more than 100 breaches of financial rules.

Following Real Madrid in this year’s survey was FC Barcelona, whose brand value increased by 4 percent to 1.4 billion euros. Nike and Spotify are two of the club’s main partners, and Herno is one of its global partners. Like Real Madrid, Barcelona does not follow the traditional ownership model and is owned by the fans of the club.

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