The most expensive dream on earth
Four of the world's most powerful clubs have reached the semifinal stage of the Champions League. They represent an aristocracy in which venerable members of the nobility rub shoulders with the nouveaux riches: Messi, Qatar, Pogba, Nike, Guardiola, Chevrolet, Cristiano Ronaldo and magnates from Indonesia to the United States. And, it is at the stadiums where they all converge, proving that football is primarily governed by that simple slogan: "the economy, stupid". These are the stripped-down figures of the elite who have the ball at their feet.
The remaining four contestants in this year's competition are at the top of their respective countries when it comes to finance. As was the case last year, three of this year's four semifinalists (Juventus being the exception) are clubs that are controlled by their members. And, one surprising fact; the Premier League, the most profitable concern in the football world, has not had a single representative since the quarter-final stage.
Value of the club
Last big signing
Franchise player (Net signings)
|Real Madrid||€549.5m #1||96,966 #3||€3,1bn #1||James Rodríguez (€80m) #2||Cristiano Ronaldo (€17.5m) #2||Carlo Ancelotti (€7.5m) #2|
|Bayern Munich||€487.5m #2||250,000 #1||€1.7bn #3||Mehdi Benatia (€26m) and Robert Lewandowski (free) #3||Franck Ribery and Mario Götze (a little more then €6m) #3||Pep Guardiola (€9.3m) #1|
|Barcelona||€484,6m #3||144,756 #2||€2.9bn #2||Luis Suárez (€81m) #1||Lionel Messi (€18m-€20m) #1||Luis Enrique (€5.5m) #3|
|Juventus||€279.4m #4||No||€774m #4||Álvaro Morata (€20m) #4||Carlos Tévez and Paul Pogba (€4.5m) #4||Massimiliano Allegri (€2m) #4|
Real Madrid makes the highest profits of any club in the world, but it is Barcelona that made the biggest outlay for its latest signings and that pays its star player the most – nobody earns as much as Messi. After these two clubs comes Bayern Munich, sandwiched between the elite of the Premier League. Italian giants such as Juventus have been left behind, evidence of the crisis afflicting their domestic league.
The following table 1, taken from a study by Goal.com, draws together the total costs of the latest big transfers, including salaries and objectives achieved. The sum paid for this year's most expensive signing, Luis Suárez, is clearly lower than the amount paid for the players who topped the table last summer; Gareth Bale and Neymar. Bale's signing cost nearly 100 million euros for the transfer alone, and the true cost of the operation to sign Neymar is still being investigated (currently, in court).
|Diego Costa||130||38||Atlético Madrid||Chelsea|
|David Luiz||115||50||Chelsea||Paris Saint-Germain|
|Ángel Di María||240||75||Real Madrid||Manchester United|
|Eliaquim Mangala||111||40||Porto||Manchester City|
|Juan Mata||122||45||Chelsea||Manchester United|
|James Rodríguez||168||80||AS Monaco||Real Madrid|
|Luke Shaw||131||37,5||Southampton||Manchester United|
According to the most recent study by France Football, Messi tops the list of the world's richest players. And, it is his club, Barça, that pays its best players the highest salaries. It should be borne in mind that the net salary of the players is considerably lower than the one that comes next. In Messi's case it is around 20 million euros, which is also the world's highest.
€25.6m per year (salary: 16.1, bonus : 7, other income: 2.5).
€27.5m per year (salary: 23, bonus : 1, other income: 3.5).
€36.5m per year (salary: 20, bonus : 0.5, other income: 16).
€54m per year (salary: 27, bonus : 1, other income: 26).
€65m per year (salary: 36, bonus : 1, other income: 28).
Florentino Pérez's Real Madrid is the best-oiled machine in the football economy, and for some years now has been ahead of a Manchester United that is paying the price for its latest on-field failures. Real Madrid's domination is mainly thanks to exorbitant and exclusive television contracts. If we take a closer look at other variables, we can see that the rankings contain a surprise. The information is from Deloitte's annual report.
Matchday: €113.8m. Broadcasting: €204.2m. Commercial: €231.5m.
Matchday: €129.3m. Broadcasting: €162.3m. Commercial: €226.4m.
Matchday: €88m. Broadcasting: €107.7m. Commercial: €291.8m.
Matchday: €116.8m. Broadcasting: €182.1m. Commercial: €155.3m.
Matchday: €63.1m. Broadcasting: €83.4m. Commercial: €327.7m.
Matchday: €56.8m. Broadcasting: €159.3m. Commercial: €198.3m.
Matchday: €84.9m. Broadcasting: €167.3m. Commercial: €135.7m.
Matchday: €119.8m. Broadcasting: €147.3m. Commercial: €92.2m.
Matchday: €61m. Broadcasting: €120.8m. Commercial: €124.1m.
Matchday: €41m. Broadcasting: €153.4m. Commercial: €85m.
The Old Trafford club will change the logo on its jersey next summer. And, the reason is 750 million pounds (more than one billion euros). The company will spread this amount over the next ten seasons, making the Red Devils' jersey the most expensive in the world and leaving Real Madrid's a very distant second.
The 53 million pounds that General Motors, through Chevrolet, will pay each year to appear on United's jersey, has made the latter the most profitable in the league table of sponsors.
|Manchester United||Adidas (from 2015-16)||Chevrolet|
|Chelsea||Adidas||Yokohama Rubber (from 2015-16)|
|Liverpool||New Balance (from 2015-16)||Standard Chartered|
|Real Madrid||Adidas||Fly Emirates|
Florentino Pérez, president and largest shareholder of ACS, the largest infrastructure construction group in the world. Pérez appears at number 949 in the Forbes list, with a fortune valued at more than 1.7 billion euros. He became president of Real Madrid in 2000 after defeating Lorenzo Sanz, the previous incumbent, in the club elections. He was responsible for the team known as Los Galácticos that included Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo and David Beckham. He resigned in 2006 only to stand for election again three years later. His second stint is marked by the signing of Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho's arrival at the club – which became the richest in the world ahead of Manchester United.
At the beginning of his career, Florentino Pérez attempted a venture into politics in his home city. Under the UCD government, he rose to become a city councilman with responsibility for infrastructure in Madrid.
Josep Maria Bartomeu, CEO of two companies: ADELTE, a port and airport engineering group; and Equipo Facility Services, responsible for maintenance of airport terminals. Bartomeu assumed the presidency of Barcelona in 2014 following the resignation of his predecessor, Sandro Rosell. The latter stepped down in the middle of ‘Neymar-gate’ – the court-case dealing with a series of alleged fraudulent actions in the signing of the Brazilian star that has placed a number of the club's directors, Bartomeu included, on trial.
When he was young, he played basketball for F.C. Barcelona's youth teams. Indeed, his first experience as a director was managing the club's basketball section when Joan Laporta became president. They would later become enemies.
Karl Hopfner, who in 2014 took over from Uli Hoeness. The latter was imprisoned for financial fraud, after having managed the club for 35 years. Bayern's members own 75% of the club's capital, which is administered through a public limited company; FC Bayern München AG. The remainder is evenly shared among 3 companies: Audi, Adidas and Allianz. The last named is the latest to purchase a slice of the Bayern cake, following a secondary equity offering. Apart from these exceptions, the club's capital is not public.
Companies in Germany may access part of a club's capital, but never more than the 50% ownership reserved for its members. There are, however, two exceptions; Wolfsburg (owned by Volkswagen) and Bayern Leverkusen (owned by Bayern).This is on account of the clubs having been founded in the bosom of their respective factories.
The six children (Avram, Joel, Bryan, Ed, Kevin and Darcie) of Malcolm Glazer, the millionaire New Yorker and owner of the empire that is the real estate holding company First Allied Corporation. Glazer senior acquired 90% ownership of Manchester United in 2005, but this was not his first foray into sport. Ten years previously he had gained control of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, an American football franchise with which he won the Superbowl. Malcolm died in 2014, having suffered a stroke a few months earlier. Despite the titles won under his ownership, the magnate faced endless condemnation from the fans at Old Trafford. They never forgave him for the ruse he employed to acquire United, one that burdened the club itself with debt.
According to the Manchester press, Malcolm Glazer obtained ownership of the club following a dispute, over the rights to a stud horse, that arose between the previous owners and the then general manager and head coach, Alex Ferguson.
The fifth son of Sheik Zayed Al Nahyan, the first president of the United Arab Emirates. Mansour is a member of the government of Abu Dhabi where he controls several companies, backed by a family fortune of more than 350 billion euros. Mansour acquired Manchester City in 2009 and made out a long list of signings with no expense spared. A sports enthusiast (as a horseman, he has competed in desert horse races), he broadened his horizons through the City Football Group consortium that owns 80% of a new MLS franchise in the United States – New York City F.C. – and also has a holding in the Yankees baseball team. In addition, it owns Melbourne City F.C., a newly-fledged franchise in the Australian championship that has been created using the same model as its cousin in New York by way of an association with another of the city's clubs – in this case, Melbourne Storm Rugby League Club. He also owns Al Jazira from Abu Dhabi.
According to the Daily Mail, the sheik hired his yacht – named Topaz and considered to be the 5th largest in the world – to the actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who burst into the last World Cup in Brazil aboard the boat.
A Russian businessman and the current owner of the steel giant Evraz, although his ascent to the Pantheon of millionaires began when he acquired the Sibneft oil company (sold to Gazprom in 2005) along with another Russian oligarch, Boris Berezovsky. The latter also helped him to win the friendship of the then president, Boris Yeltsin. He was governor of the Chukotka region, in the east of the country, until 2008. Abramovich arrived at Chelsea in 2003 and would soon fill the team with stars, although the best-remembered signing in the club's history would be sat in the dugout; José Mourinho. With a fortune worth more than 8 billion euros, he appears at number 137 in the Forbes list. Through his company Sibneft's sponsorship, he also gained powerful influence at a club from his country's capital – CSKA Moscow.
He owns a Boeing 767, and in 2013 he bought 40 paintings by Ilya Kabalov, Russia's most expensive living artist.
He is the owner of the Indonesian communications group Mahaka, which itself owns newspapers, television companies, magazines and radio stations. He is the son of Tri Nugraha ‘Teddy’ Thohir, co-owner of the car industry giant Astra and brother of Garibaldi Thohir who features among the country's 50 richest businessmen. Away from Mahaka, Erick has planted several seeds in the sports club business. He is president of the Southeast Asia Basketball Association, the sport in which his path began – he first bought Satria Muda and the Mahaputri women's team, before taking another step with the Indonesia Warriors. He later made the leap into football with Persib Bandung. His current collection includes D. C. United, another US football club, and a holding in the Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA. And, of course, Inter Milan. Thohir landed at the club in 2013 after buying 70% of the shares from Massimo Moratti, the institution's long-serving president.
He has not had an easy start of it in Italy. Following an investment of 260 million euros to purchase the club, Inter currently lie tenth in the league and had to fire their coach, Walter Mazzarri. In addition, he has had to contend with certain racist comments, such as the one made by his opposite number at Sampdoria, Massimo Ferrero, who suggested to Thohir's predecessor that "he should get rid of that Filipino".
Who is Silvio Berlusconi? Nicknamed Il Cavaliere and approaching his eightieth birthday, he is one of Italy's most important figures of the latter part of the 20th century, as well as of the 21st. He is, for example, the longest-serving head of government since the Second World War. He is also the owner of Fininvest, the controlling group of the communications giant Mediaset, which extends across Italy and Spain. The magnate has also faced a number of lawsuits throughout his career from which he has always managed to wriggle free. His relationship with A.C. Milan began when he acquired the club in 1986. In the years that followed, he turned it into the best team in the world. In the early nineties he made the leap into politics with Forza Italia and began his climb to the summit of power, a position that helped him protect his fortune of around 7 billion euros.
The rumors surrounding the sale of Milan have not stopped in the last few years. The latest one concerns the new shareholding of Thai businessman Bee Taechaubol, owner of the private capital group Thai Prime Company Limited.
The heirs of Giovanni Agnelli, the founder of Fiat. The Agnelli dynasty manages the club through the Exor group. Juventus is quoted on the Stock Exchange and the Agnellis currently own a little less than 70% of the total shares. Agnelli, Fiat and Juventus form an association that stretches back nearly a century. In 1923, great-great-grandfather Giovanni bought the club and turned it into the biggest giant in Italian history. This was to the detriment of the country's other big club – Torino, to be exact – a direct rival from the same city as Juventus. The club's current president is Andrea Agnelli, although it is John Elkann, another of the descendants, who manages the company.
Al-Saadi el Gadafi, son of the Libyan dictator, came to acquire a substantial shareholding in the club. In fact, Gadafi's heir went to Italy to become a football player, trying to buy his right to play for clubs such as Udinese, Perugia and Sampdoria. He managed to play a few minutes with the first two teams mentioned. He did not dare to even ask at Juventus.
President of BeIN Media Group, a communications group created by Qatar Sports Investment, which in turn belongs to the Qatari royal family. BeIN obtained control of Al Jazeera Sports in 2013. It now operates in France and the United States where it holds the television rights to important European competitions, including the Champions League. A close friend of the Emir of Qatar, Al-Khelaifi assumed the presidency of Qatar Sports Investment in order to spread the profits obtained from the royal family's gas and oil interests to the world of sport. In 2011 he gained control of Paris Saint Germain – a club from the French capital that was experiencing troubled times – and imposed a five-year plan to take it to the very top. Stars such as Ibrahimovic and Cavani answered his call. The company also has a sponsorship agreement with F.C. Barcelona, making Qatar the first sponsor to appear on the jersey in the entire history of the blaugrana club.
Al-Khelaifi played tennis as a professional and reached 995th in the ATP rankings, a real landmark in his country. In fact, he is now the president of the Qatar Tennis Association.
An oligarch from the Perm region who made his fortune with Uralkali, a company producing potash fertilizer that was the central focus of Rybolovlev's career and became one of the country's biggest corporations until he dumped it for 6 billion euros in 2010. The son of doctors, Rybolovlev is one of the businessmen who took advantage of Perestroika in order to build an empire. He spent 11 months in prison in 1996, accused of ordering the death of the head of a competitor company. He arrived in Monaco in 2011, having reached an agreement with Prince Albert to obtain control of 66% of the shares. At that time Monaco had fallen into the second division, having been a Champions League finalist in the previous decade. One year later, and waving its check book about, the club from the principality returned to the elite and signed Falcao who was then one of the best forwards in the world.
In 2014 Rybolovlev was involved in the most expensive divorce case of all time. After seven years of litigation with his ex-wife Elena, a Geneva court ordered the businessman to pay his ex-spouse a sum of over 3.2 billion euros. Rybolovlev is currently placed at number 156 in the Forbes list.
With qualification for the quarter-final stage of the Champions League complete, the competition threw up a huge surprise; not a single English team was left to contest the trophy this year. This small sporting disaster contrasts with another piece of news, one that comes from the finance quarter and indicates the robust health in which the English league finds itself.
Namely, that the Premier League announced at the start of the year that it had sold the television rights for a sum approaching 7 billion euros, spread over three seasons from 2016 onwards. The sale represented a 70% increase with respect to the previous contract and confirmed the assertion that the top English league is by far the most profitable in football. One piece of data serves to illustrate this reality; in a couple of seasons from now, a mid-ranking Premier League club will receive a basic sum of around 130 million euros per season. Currently, this figure would only be surpassed on the continent by Real Madrid and Barcelona.
There is a belief that the Premier League is the most evenly-matched competition in Europe. This is derived more from the economic options available to the clubs than from the variety of champions that the league produces. Every year the smaller clubs in the Premier League sign players who shine for bigger teams in other leagues. That is its great success, stemming to a large extent from a distribution system that shares the profits obtained from television.
The Premier League sells its rights in a centralized manner, as a single entity, just as the Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 all do. The secret, however, is in the percentages. The distribution in England is straightforward – all twenty clubs receive an equal share of 50% of the revenue while the other half is divided into two; 25% is awarded using a weighted system based on each club's final league position, and the remaining 25% is allocated by looking at the number of televised matches and the viewing figures obtained by each team. This equation makes the Premier League the competition with the smallest difference between the first and last-placed clubs in terms of revenue received. 1 Distribution in the other leagues is more weighted to the clubs that historically have had greater prestige.
The formula that differs most radically from the one employed in England is that which is applied in La Liga. In Spain, each club negotiates its own television rights, and while this generates large returns for the two big clubs, it leaves the smaller ones out in the cold and produces the championship with the greatest inequalit. 2 To go back to the beginning, if we compare the income received by an average English team with Valencia or Atlético Madrid – both of whom are in the second tier of La Liga in terms of revenue – we can see that the ratio is 3:1 in favor of the club from the Premier League. Just this season a debate is taking place in Spain on a change towards a more equitable model, one that at least approaches the rules of the Italian league, if not those of the English.
The English model, shown to be the most effective at increasing the value of its league, is similar to that used by the big American competitions – the ones that receive the highest television revenue in the world. This is the case of the NFL, which distributes all income it receives from television in a completely equitable way. Something similar happens in the NBA, where the revenue generated from the worldwide selling rights is shared equally among all the franchises. It is true that each team then negotiates the sale of its games to local operators on its own accord, but there is a common fund to which every franchise contributes a certain amount so that any inequalities are evened out.
It is a curious fact that these tournaments, with their social-democratic formulas for distribution, take place in the most capitalist country in the world. The reason they give to justify their model seems logical enough; the stronger each team in the league is, the greater the interest generated by the whole package. And, it looks as if they are on the right track. For example, the NBA has just this year signed a television contract for 24 billion dollars (about 22 billion euros), spread over 9 nine seasons. On the other hand, the revenue forecast for the current season is 12 billion dollars (a little over 11 billion euros). And, returning to football, we have seen how the Premier League - the competition that most closely matches the precepts of the two American ones – is the most profitable league in the world.