How to promote a football club?

THE ECO SCAN – The value of a football club does not only depend on its athletic performance. While the transfer market has just opened, Le Figaro explains by taking the example of the English club Manchester United, the first football team to exceed one billion dollars in valuation.

In one of his most famous outings, Bill Shankly, the legendary coach of the English club Liverpool between 1959 and 1974, spoke about the nature of football: “Some people think that football is a question of life or of death. I find that shocking. I can assure you that it is much more important than that ”. More than a game, football is today considered to be a sprawling business where the “big fish” keep growing. According to,, fourth in the last English championship, is valued at 1.2 billion dollars, or 1.06 billion euros, up 63% compared to 2014. The Mancunian club thus becomes the first club to exceed the billion financial valuation dollars. This performance, however, coincides with a sporting period filled with doubts: the team did not play, last season, the most prestigious competition for football clubs, namely the Champions League and did not manage to win. climb onto the podium in the last two seasons.

Defining the value of a football club is a fairly complex system where, beyond sporting performance, many indicators are taken into account and in particular the different revenues of a team: revenues linked to ticketing, rights TV and commercial income. Concretely, this value represents the sum that would have to pay a company which does not own the mark to use it. As the economist and RMC Sport columnist Pascal Perri explains, we can assimilate the valuation of a sports entity to a “real company where the approach is intangible. When Apple enters a new market, it responds to a customer’s needs. There, it is different, we are in the assessment according to a perspective of sports results and influence ”. This is the case of Manchester United which has managed to keep a side “bankable, a positive image despite a decline in sports results”.

“Only the richest clubs pull the total upwards because today, those said to be” weaker “are content to survive”

Raffaele Poli, Director of the Football Observatory

, the Manchester United “machine” is more than ever untouchable from a financial and marketing point of view. Often presented as the most popular club in the world, especially in emerging markets such as China or India, the team has above all been able to maintain a relationship of trust with its sponsors. If has pledged to pay 64 million euros each year for the next seven seasons, the new sponsorship contract signed this year with Adidas has broken all records: 750 million pounds (more than one billion euros !) for the next ten years. A sum three times greater than that paid so far by. It must be said that Adidas, after having had a difficult year in 2014, has been at the start of 2015. When we examine the top 10 richest clubs in the world, five teams are sponsored by the German brand, three of which occupy the podium ( Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid).

The market for player transfers also seems to be increasingly won over by growing inflation. For six years, there has been a sharp increase in the amounts invested by clubs to strengthen their workforce. During the 2009/10 season, the 98 teams making up the “Big 5” (Italy, Germany, France, Spain, England) spent 6.9 billion euros (70.4 million euros per club) according to. During the past season, investment rose 24.5% to a total of 8.6 billion euros (87.7 million euros per club).

“We have seen the birth of a segmented market where a dozen clubs arbitrate the market at each period. Only the richest clubs pull the total upwards because today, those said to be “weaker” are content to survive, ”explains Raffaele Poli, the director of the Observatory. The estimation of a player’s worth is based on his contractual status, position, age, experience, international status and performance.

Unsurprisingly, the most expensive player in the world is FC Barcelona’s Argentinian Lionel Messi, estimated at 280.8 million euros (with a contract running until 2018 in Catalonia). During, the Football Observatory then set the market value of between 217 and 252 million euros. Slowly, we are always moving a little further from the vision of, the president of l, for whom “football is a game before a product, a spectacle before a business and a sport before a market”.