LONDON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Real Madrid held its position as the world's richest soccer club as English clubs climbed the rankings to claim three of the top five slots in an annual survey by accountancy firm Deloitte [DLTE.UL].
Manchester United climbed two places to second in the latest 'Football Money League' table of the world's 20 biggest soccer clubs ranked by revenue, Deloitte said.
London-based teams Chelsea and Arsenal also climbed to fourth and fifth places, respectively, while Barcelona dropped one place from second to third, Deloitte said.
'This is the first time that any country has had three clubs in the top five of the Money League,' said Dan Jones, a partner at the Sports Business Group at Deloitte. 'Arsenal's move to the Emirates Stadium has transformed their revenues whilst Chelsea's revenue increase sees them return to the top five.'
Real Madrid, which won the Spanish Liga last season, saw its revenues leap 20 percent to 351 million euros ($511.2 million) during the 2006/07 season, while Manchester United, also winners of last season's Premier League, posted revenues of 315 million euros, Deloitte said.
'With the new Premier League television deals now online for the 2007/08 season, Manchester United have the opportunity to significantly close the gap on Real,' Jones said. 'A successful Champions League run may even see them challenge again for the number one position.'
Combined revenues for the top 20 clubs'rose by 11 percent to 3.7 billion euros, the highest rate of growth since the 2002/03 season, Deloitte said.
The top 20 included six English clubs, four from both Germany and Italy; three from Spain, two French and one from Scotland.
'The performance of German clubs particularly catches the eye, with enhanced revenues being generated from new and improved stadia,' said Alan Switzer, Director in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.
'The stadium is a club's biggest asset and the majority of the Money League clubs are looking to complete stadium developments in the short and medium term.'
The number of English clubs in the ranking fell from eight to six, although it may increase again next year, the accountancy firm said.
'Clubs such as Aston Villa, Everton, Manchester City and West Ham United are already just outside the top 20 and with the revenue uplift from the new broadcast deals now benefiting the clubs, we expect to see the bottom half of next year's Money League dominated by English teams,' said Paul Rawnsley, Director in the Sports Business Group said.