Barcelona have leapfrogged Spanish rivals Real Madrid to become the world’s most valuable soccer club with a valuation of $4.76 billion, according to a list published by business magazine Forbes on Monday.
Barcelona tops the Forbes list of the world’s 20 most valuable soccer teams for the first time, knocking Real Madrid to No. 2. Barcelona is valued at $4.76 billion, just nudging out Real Madrid at $4.75 billion. The top spot had been monopolized by two teams for the previous 16 years, with Real Madrid taking it five times and England’s Manchester United 11 times.
Barcelona’s rise comes as the club has been caught in a public fight with superstar Lionel Messi, the world’s highest-paid player, who threatened to leave last year before the final season under his contract. The months-long cliffhanger ended with Messi staying put and the team’s president resigning.
The world’s 20 most valuable soccer teams are worth an average of $2.28 billion apiece, an increase of 30% from two years ago, the last time Forbes published the ranking. The jump comes despite a decline in revenue caused by limited attendance during the pandemic, with buyers focused on what they see as still untapped revenue potential in the sport’s massive global following.
Average revenue for the 20 teams was $441 million for the 2019-20 season, down 9.6% from 2017-18, while average operating income fell by 70% over the period to $23 million. “The pain is far from over, with a worsening decline in match-day revenue during the current season as most of the teams in Europe’s top leagues still permit few fans to attend games,” wrote Forbes’ assistant managing editor Mike Ozanian.
Still, investors continue to pay the kind of rich multiples for top-tier soccer teams that they offer for NFL, NBA and big-market MLB franchises. For RedBird Capital’s recent acquisition of a minority stake in Fenway Sports Group, which owns Liverpool, an appraiser valued the Premier League club at more than $4 billion, roughly 6.4 times revenue—about the same multiple Steve Cohen paid for the New York Mets last year when he bought the MLB franchise for $2.42 billion. The NBA’s Utah Jazz changed hands for $1.66 billion in December, or six times pre-pandemic revenue. Liverpool’s value is up 88% since Forbes last valuation, which lands at No. 5 on this year’s list at $4.1billon.
European champions Bayern Munich ($4.215 billion) are third on the list while the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ — Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur — are in the top 10.
French champions and last year’s Champions League runners-up Paris St Germain moved up to ninth after being valued at $2.5 billion with a 129% increase in two years — the biggest increase among the top 10 clubs.
Juventus are the first Italian club in 11th position, behind Tottenham. The Bianconeri’s worth is $1.95 billion. Inter, Milan and Roma are among the 20 most valuable clubs in the world, but each one has a worth below one billion.
According to Calcio & Finanza, Inter are the second club with the highest growth compared to two years ago, the last time Forbes published its ranking.
TOP 20 football clubs with the highest valuation (Forbes 2021)