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Deloitte recently released the 16th edition of their Football Money League, a summary of the 20 highest earning clubs in the world (see the infographic here).  Their League is published eight months after the end of the previous season and is widely considered “the most contemporary and reliable analysis of clubs’ relative financial performance” in three key areas:  matchday, TV and commercial.

Much has been reported about some of the key statistics, such as Real Madrid retaining its position at the top and breaking €500 million for the first time, and Manchester City’s meteoric rise from twelfth spot to fifth.  But the key statistic that stood out for me was the fact that while Arsenal sit in a very commendable 6th place, a whole 41% of their revenue is generated by their matchday takings (gate receipts including season tickets and memberships).

So why has this got me excited?  Because let’s face it, what it’s showing is that Arsenal charge more to watch their matches than any other club, a fact already ratified by BBC Sports’ 2012 Price of Football Survey.   Well it’s the growth potential that enthuses me.  If 41% of Arsenal’s revenue comes from the 60,000 fans that are lucky enough to get into the Emirates Stadium, what can they earn from the remaining 113 million around the world?  They have very little control over TV revenue because some of this is equally split between the FAPL clubs, while the remainder is divided up based on the number of televised appearances and finishing League position, but their global fanbase can directly impact their commercial revenues (sponsorship and merchandise).

Manchester City’s matchday takings account for only 13% of their total revenue, clearly demonstrating how good they are at communicating with their global fans – the best in Deloitte’s League actually — with Juventus following at 16% and visitors to Old Trafford contributing 31%.  (Admittedly I thought United’s percentage would be lower but their absolute number is disproportionately higher – £122 million vs. City’s £38 million.)

Let’s do the maths for Arsenal:   their replica shirt, if purchased from their own website, is £60 which means  if the Club could get just an additional 1% of their global fanbase to buy it, that’d be an extra £67.8 million in merchandise sales, more than their total commercial revenue currently.  That’s what CRM is all about – engaging with customers to get them to spend more – so it’s no coincidence that not only do City make more out of their non-Etihad visitors, but they also won the title “Best Use of Technology” at the 2012 Football Business Awards.

And another point:  if Arsenal can figure out where their global fans reside, they can follow Manchester United’s sponsorship strategy of securing territory-specific partners in non-competing categories and sell more sponsorships, adding further to their commercial coffers (read my article about that here).

I don’t doubt for one minute that Ivan Gazidis, Arsenal’s CEO, already has his team working on this, so I for one shall be looking for their matchday percentage to go down but their total revenues to go up in Deloitte’s 2014 report.

Do you think Arsenal have the same global commercial opportunity as Manchester United?


  • Jim O'Toole says:

    sadly , this shows how weak their commercial operation is due largely to a manager who has too much control in the brand, refusing until recently to consider any pre season touring that didn’t involve the crucial market of Austria! Commericial mindset change required otherwise it will all be about fans paying and tv revenues

    • fionagreen66 says:

      And they’ve got to do it quickly….the longer they wait the further behind they’ll get. They need to be considering those 113 million, engaging with them, finding a way to retain their loyalty and then transacting with them.

  • Adam C says:

    To the fans success is determined on the pitch – there has been no silverware at Arsenal since 2005 – they have lost five world class players – results have suffered and they are in danger of not qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in years. How can a brand expand around the World if they are not winning trophies – the Asian market like Red Shirts, but also like Winners. Its a testing time for Arsenal – time for Wenger to move on ?

  • fionagreen66 says:

    You’re right Adam: in terms of their ability to grow any further they need to be winning, but even to capitalise on what they’ve currently got — 113 milliions worldwide — they need to be moving quickly to retain this global fanbase. It sounds as though both you and Jim O’Toole are saying the same thing – the club won’t grow off the field until changes are made on it!

  • rod wilson says:

    Just from observation: Arsenal seem to have a large proportion of wealthy supporters including many television celebrities, film stars etc. On the other side of the coin if you ever watch any programmes from the far east etc you do not see many Arsenal shirts being worn in comparison to Barca and Man Utd. They do seem to be prevalent however in programmes about poor countries in Africa. I imagine the replica shirts these people are wearing are not £60 genuine articles? Why is there this connection? Is it because Arsenal is based in London and people believe the streets are paved with gold and aspire to live there or is it because Arsenal have traditionally had a lot of black players? It is good that they seem to have this most varied support from both ends of the economic ladder but commercially it doesn’t help the balance sheet.
    In the case of Man City is their international support mainly from the Middle East where because of their owners, they are viewed as a quasi State Team?
    Apart from the stadium and until recently Arsenal have been run as an old fashioned boardroom English team.
    If they want to catch up, things need to change both on the pitch with player recruitment and off it commercially according to the article in this blog. Where as most managers will happily bankrupt a Club in an attempt to bring success, QPR beware, at Arsenal Wenger is not known as “The Accountant ” for nothing. I suppose a balance needs to take place. Funny game football and a very funny business.

  • fionagreen66 says:

    It’s one of the funniest businesses I know Rod — but it’s almost one of the most interesting, compelling…..and time-consuming (a fact you know only too well!) Thanks for your insightful observations..

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