Top of the Tops: UEFA’s leading football clubs

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The UEFA Club Licensing Benchmarking Report offers an authoritative overview of European club football, on the one hand, providing a granular guide to club football across all 55 UEFA member associations, and on the other hand, identifying and documenting many of the important trends of our time.

Professional football in Europe operates as a unique ecosystem, with clubs bound together in leagues and sharing mutual interests. This stable pyramid helps to make club football remarkably resilient, as illustrated by more than 20 consecutive years of revenue growth.

Rising transfer profits can also lead to financial complacency, with clubs’ wage bills edging upwards across Europe. Indeed, wage inflation totalled €1.2bn in 2018, exceeding clubs’ total revenue growth of €1.0bn.

Also Read: European leagues register record €21 billion revenue: UEFA Report

UEFA in its official evaluation of the professional football leagues and clubs across Europe has evaluated the competitions on various parameters. brings to its readers top 10 European football clubs in various aspects laid out by UEFA for financial year 2018.


European football is a global success story, underlined by 20 years of continuous club revenue growth.  Top-division clubs reported total combined revenues of €21bn in FY2018, up 5% on FY2017 and the top 30 clubs achieved combined revenues of more than €10bn, accounting for 49% of the revenues of all top-division clubs.



Salaries paid to players and other employees are the clubs’ single biggest cost component. Wages grew by 9.4% in FY2018, the highest rate of growth in 11 years. Top clubs pay 11x the wages of smaller clubs in Spain, 3.6x in England and a record 35 clubs have wage bills in excess of €100m.



The players at the top 20 clubs originally cost €10.6bn in transfer fees, but are valued at just €5.6bn on those clubs’ balance sheets – 53% of their original fees. The net-book value and original transfer costs of the top 20 squads have both increased by more than 60% since FY2015, reflecting major increases in transfer prices.

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Clubs have many other costs besides wages and transfers. Operating costs absorbed 33% of clubs’ revenue in FY2018 – up slightly from the all-time low of 32% recorded in FY2017. The top 20 clubs’ operating costs increased by 11% in FY2018, driven by high commercial development costs. Outside the top 20 leagues, operating costs often absorb more than 50% of the clubs’ revenue.



Club profitability is now an increasingly prominent issue following the introduction of financial fair play rules. Aggregate operating profits of Europe’s top-division clubs in FY2018, down from €1.4bn in FY2017. English clubs profits of €382m drives Top 20 leagues profits in 2018, but significant differences remain.


Interestingly, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona top the tables on the parameters which determine a club’s commercial success. While Premier League clubs are ahead in spending and costs.

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