Top 20 richest football clubs in the world

Soccer, or football, call it what you like, is undoubtedly one of the most prolific and popular sports throughout the world. From the dusty, dry streets in Africa to the lush, pristine fields in Europe, the sport has a universal appeal.

The fans are something else too. Ardent and passionate supporters of their team, the likes of which you are unlikely to see in other sport. It is almost a religion to some of them. Added to that, they are more than happy to fork out money for ticket prices or the very lucrative merchandise market.

There is little to no doubt that soccer is big business indeed. With players often coming from poverty to earning millions a week and the coaches are amongst the highest earners in the world too.

Soccer has such a universal and international appeal that the sports teams are amongst the most valuable in the world with Real Madrid and Barcelona the second and third most valuable of all sports combined.

Soccer is still relatively small in the massive American market but is growing rapidly. And look set to keep increasing in value, growing at a faster rate than many other sports as the sport of soccer gains popularity in America and around the world.

Top 20 richest football clubs in the world:

So who are the richest clubs? There are a number of ways to measure this, as with any statistical analysis, but the most reliable data comes from Forbes. They produce an annual report on team values based on match days takings in ticket sales, broadcasting revenue, commercial revenue and brand value. It is about the closest you will get to a comprehensive ranking.

The latest Forbes reports put the top 20 richest soccer teams as follows:

The top four teams have not changed over the past year with all holding their positions. Real Madrid retains the top spot with a valuation of $3.65 billion which is $390 million increase from last year. It is also interesting to note only one English club in the top 4, a picture that would have looked very different a few years ago. Again, a testament to the growing popularity of the sport.

  1. Real Madrid (Spain)

For many years Manchester United held the top spot but Real Madrid knocked them out of that spot a few years ago and are holding onto it tightly with an annual income in excess of USD 694 million and a valuation in excess USD 3 645 million.

Not surprisingly, they have some of the highest-paid players in the sport and some fine players they are. Real’s Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo have to rank as two of the best soccer players ever, with Ronaldo taking home about USD2 million a week.

  1. FC Barcelona (Spain)

In the second place, also from Spain is FC Barcelona. The club broke records signing Luis Suarez and together with striker Neymar they have a formidable attack. They have annual earning USD 675 million of and an estimated worth of USD 3 549 million, very close behind first placed Real Madrid.

  1. Manchester United (England)

World famous team and brand name, Manchester United held the number one spot for many years before dropping down to the third spot. If the positions were to be measured in terms of television rights and commercial activity, they would still be in the top spot.

The most recent figures from Forbes show their annual earnings at USD 625 million and a brand worth of USD 3 317 million, again, all very close at the top of the log.

One of the biggest names in the sport, Wayne Rooney plays for the team and earns about USD100 million weekly.

  1. Bayern Munich (Germany)

In the fourth spot, climbing from ninth a few years back is German team Bayern Munich.

Their annual earnings last year were USD 570 million and the team is worth around USD 2 678 million.

Being Champions League winner during 2012/13 has boosted the team and manager Pep Guardiloa, gets around USD50 million a year for his work.

  1. Arsenal (England)

Arsenal fans rarely miss a game so gate takings form a large part of their earnings which, last year sat at USD 524 million and the team value of about USD 2017 million.

Their consistent good performance in the Champions League keeps them near the top earners. Their best-paid players are Mezut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.

  1. Manchester City (England)

Owned by Sheikh Mansour of Abu Dhabi Group, one of the richest men in the world,

Manchester City has a value of about USD 1921 million with annual revenue of USD 558 million.

The English champions are managed by Manuel Pellegrini.

  1. Chelsea (England)

Chelsea is owned by Roman Ambramovich and is valued at USD 1661 million with a turnover of USD 524 million, Chelsea is expected to keep climbing the rankings.

Based in Fulham London, the previous underdogs, Chelsea have enjoyed a decade of success helping it climb the earnings rankings considerably.

  1. Liverpool (England)

Another huge brand name with many loyal supporters throughout the world, Liverpool has a current value of around USD 1548 million and an annual turnover of USD 471 million a year.

Earnings have improved dramatically for this well-loved team over the past years, making the bulk of its money from ticket sales and TV rights.

  1. Juventus (Italy)

The first Italian team in the top 10, thanks in part to being a champion of Italian Series A. One of the greatest clubs in Europe, they are worth USD 1299 million with an annual turnover of USD 310 million. The Champions League football and television rights being their greatest source of income.

  1. Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (England)

Commonly called the Spurs, this team holds the tenth position in the richest soccer clubs in the world. They have a long and proud history, winning their first FA Cup in 1901. Their current annual turnover is USD 310 million with a valuation of USD 1017 million.

  1. Borussia Dortmund (Germany)

This well-established club was formed in 1909 and has had a lot of success with winning eight German championships, three DFB-Pokals, five DFL-Supercups, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, as well as one Intercontinental Cup. The 1966 Cup Winners’ Cup win gave them the distinction of being the first German club to win a European title.

They are ranked 11 with a worth of USD 836 million, turning over USD 338 million.

  1. AC Milan (Italy)

This high paying club from Italy is worth USD 825 million and has a turnover of USD 240 million.

  1. Paris Saint-Germain (France)

The first and only French team in the top 20 is Paris Saint-Germain with an annual turnover of USD 578 million and team worth of USD 814 million.

  1. Schalke 04 (Germany)

Another German team with a long and proud history, Schalke 04 ?is a professional German association-football club and multi-sports club formed in 1904, hence the 04 in the name.

They are currently worth USD 655 million and turnover USD 264 million per year. They have been improving their earnings over the past few years.

  1. Atlético Madrid (Spain)

With a current value of USD 633 million an annual turnover of USD 225 million, this Spanish team, based in Madrid comes in at number 15 on the list.Honorary president of the club is Felipe VI, the current king of Spain.

  1. Inter Milan (Italy)

Inter Milan is a professional Italian football club based in Milan, Lombardy. The club has always been in the top tier of the Italian football league system since their origins in 1909.Currently worth USD 559 million and turnover USD 198 million.

  1. West Ham United (England)

Based in Stratford, East London, England, they compete in the Premier League, England’s top tier of football. Founded in 1895, they now play in London Stadium.

Their current annual turnover is USD 198 million with a valuation of USD 542 million.

  1. Roma (Italy)

Roma has been in the top league except for 1951/1952.They are worth USD 508 million with a turnover of USD 217 Million.

  1. Napoli (Italy)

Formed in 1926, this professional Italian football club based in Naples, Campania.

Has an annual turnover of USD 151 Million USD 396 Million.

  1. Newcastle United (England)

After the relegation from the top-flight during the 2015–16 season, Newcastle returned to the Football League’s 2nd tier, the Championship, for the 2016–17 campaign and are back on track, hopefully, to start climbing in earnings. Currently, they are worth USD 383 Million and have an annual turnover of USD 204 Million

As you can see, soccer is big business indeed. The amount of money spent on players, trades, and coaches is staggering but there is no sign of revenues going down. Although the more established clubs can afford to buy better players, there is plenty of room for the lower-ranking clubs to rise considerably.

The more wins and the better the result will increase ticket sales merchandising deals and fees for TV rights.The big business will continue to grow as it has such a universal appeal and continues to grow in popularity. The teams are well established and profitable brand names and will continue to grow on this, allowing them to pay for better players and ultimately make more money in the process.Credit to Forbes for their value and revenue reports.

By Matt

Matt is the owner and chief-editor of the Footy Blog, one of the UK's leading football news blogs.