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Wednesday, February 15, 2006
Real Madrid knocks off Man. U as richest club

LONDON -- Real Madrid has knocked off Manchester United as the world's richest soccer club.

Madrid overtook the Red Devils for the first time at the top of the "Football Money League," an independent report released Thursday by the Deloitte accounting firm.

United had been ranked No. 1 since the report began nine seasons ago. Deloitte only uses revenue as its ranking and not the wealth of individual club owners.

Real Madrid increased its revenue by 17 percent to $328 million for the 2004-05 season despite going a second straight year without a major trophy. United earned $293 million in the same period.

AC Milan was third with $279 million, followed by Italian champion Juventus with $273 million and English champion Chelsea at $263 million.

"The mainstay of Real's revenue growth is not match-day revenues, as we have seen in many of the UK clubs, or broadcasting revenue, as we have seen -- and continue to see -- in Italy, but strong progress in realizing their commercial potential," the report said.

Madrid's revenue doubled in four years despite increasingly poor performances. It was second in last year's Spanish league and was eliminated from the Champions League at the first knockout stage.

Commercial revenue including sponsorship, merchandising and licensing contributed 45 percent of Madrid's total income. Madrid made $62 million more in commercial revenue than Manchester United and $74 million more than FC Barcelona.

Manchester United's revenue fell because of a reduction in broadcast income, partly because of its exit from the Champions League at the first knockout round. However, Deloitte said United was one of "the foremost brands in the industry and are still clearly the most profitable club in terms of day to day operations."

Three clubs dropped out of last year's top 20 -- Marseille, Aston Villa and Rangers -- and were replaced by Everton, Lyon and Valencia. Only 13 clubs have appeared in all nine editions of the report: Arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Inter, Juventus, Lazio, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Manchester United, AC Milan, AS Roma, Newcastle and Tottenham.




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