Poor season dents Manchester United brand as City gains ground

Manchester United’s poor season has hit the value of its brand leaving the club in danger of being overtaken by rivals Manchester City, according to a report.

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Manchester United could soon be overtaken by rivals City if it continues to under perform on the pitch.

The club’s value has plummeted £113m over the last year to £439m following a weak season that saw it miss out on European football for the first time since 1990. The study by Brand Finance warns United’s value could sink further as sponsors switch allegiance, which could put its commercial offering under strain in the coming years.

United revealed last month failure to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in eighteen years, the club finished seventh in the Premier League last season, would cost it more than £30m. Despite on-pitch difficulties, the club said sponsorship income grew 43.5 per cent in its latest quarter. 

It leaves the club third behind Bayern Munich and Real Madrid just two years after topping the rankings. Bayern Munich’s (£531m) historic treble winning performance in the 2013-14 season kept it at the top of the table despite losing its European crown to second place Real Madrid (£456m), who won the Champions League on Saturday (24 May).

“With arguably the finest player in the world in the shape of Ronaldo and now a first Champions League title in ten years, Real’s brand is back on a solid footing,” Brand Finance says. 

English clubs Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Manchester City are placed from fifth to eighth most valuable.

City was the most improved performer out of the Premier League clubs, posting a 53 per cent jump in value to £310m. The club’s success on the pitch, which has seen it win the domestic league twice in three years, is rapidly growing the brand alongside its expansion into the US where it has created a new Major League Soccer club through a tie-up with the New York Yankees.

Brand Finance says the club could soon usurp its inter-city rivals providing it can deal with sanctions for breaches of financial fair play regulations, which will see the club forced to compete with a restricted squad size in Europe next season. City’s brand could soon be a far more enticing prospect than United’s for sponsors and fickle international fans, it adds.

The rankings are based on an analysis of tangibles and intangibles such as revenue, market share and brand equity.

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