Although some would prefer that it not be this way, soccer, just like other sports, is not just about the athletic side of things. Professional sports franchises exist as a business and, as such, the goal for most of them is to make money. Just like every industry, soccer revenue has declined because of the coronavirus, and all the work put into building up teams and values over the years has taken several steps backward. According to the latest Brand Financial Football Annual report, brand value among the top 50 soccer organizations has lost just under $900 million (€751 million), and more losses could be on their way.
The past six years have seen brand values steadily climb, pleasing owners, players and shareholders. However, that trend has come to a grinding halt because of COVID-19 and teams are going to be forced to start the rebuilding process all over again. The losses are primarily the result of the loss of revenue streams tied to game broadcasts, commercial partnerships and the matches themselves.
SBC News points out that Real Madrid, which continues to be the world’s most valuable soccer brand, is worth $1.68 billion (€1.42 billion). A substantial amount by any standards, it represents a 14% drop from its value in 2019. FC Barcelona has been able to catch up as a result, and is now only $7.11 million (€6 million) behind in terms of brand value. That gap has been closed, in part, due to the weaker soccer market and additional efforts led by Barcelona to generate additional revenue.
In England, Manchester United has seen its brand value drop by around $187.4 million (£143 million). That has led to Man U, once occupying second place on the list of most valuable soccer clubs, to relinquish its position and be relegated to third behind Barcelona. Overall, English soccer franchises still remain some of the most valuable in the world, and have six listed among the top ten – 19 among the top 50.