How Leicester City Became The Fastest Growing Brand In World Football

by Duncan MacRae

Leicester City FC’s brand value has leapt up by 132 per cent since clinching the English Premiership title, making it the fastest growing football club brand in the world.

The Fox’s league success added £93.7m to its brand value, taking its value to £160m and making it the 16th most valuable football club brand globally – up from 42nd in 2015.

Additional revenue

At the beginning of the decade Leicester languished in the third tier of English football. As recently as 2012, sponsorship revenue stood at just £5.2m. Revenues were £32m in 2013/14 and £104m in 2014/15, reflecting the cachet of Leicester’s newfound Premier League status. This year’s unprecedented title win, it is estimated, will see Leicester receive an additional £150m.

The figures have been revealed by brand valuation and strategy consultancy Brand Finance, which conducts an annual study that calculates the brand strength and value of the world’s leading football club brands.

Manchester United, meanwhile, remains the most valuable brand in world football, despite limping to a disappointing fifth place in England’s top flight and missing out on a crack at the Champions League next season. The club is now said to be worth £793m.

Although Manchester United’s lacklustre league performance saw manager Louis Van Gaal sacked, a first FA Cup triumph in more than a decade and forecasts of continuing revenue growth softened the blow. The new Premier League broadcasting deal saw the rights to the next three seasons’ games divided between Sky and BT Sport for more than £5.1bn, a 71 per cent increase on the previous period, boosting the brand values of all premier leagues clubs and keeping United just ahead of a resurgent Real Madrid.

The Spanish giants, fresh from Champions League victory and with a lucrative new kit deal recently announced, is the second most valuable football club brand worldwide, trailing Manchester United by £15.3m.

A club’s brand value is calculated by combining brand strength with revenue data across three major streams; commercial, broadcasting and matchday. With a capacity of 32,000, Leicester City’s King Power stadium is one of the Premier League’s smallest, so matchday revenues are likely to grow only slightly.

The same can be said for commercial revenues from merchandise as, despite Leicester’s Thai ownership and success this year, clubs such as Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea still hold sway in Thailand and wider Asia. In the short term, Leicester’s newfound riches will flow from sponsors thronging to the club to capitalise on the club’s global visibility and heroic story as well as vast broadcasting revenues from the Premier League and Champions League, which will deliver a minimum of £20m and likely significantly more.

Brand Finance chief executive David Haigh, says: “Leicester’s success is something their existing sponsors will only have dreamed of and their return on investment has been spectacular.

“Armed with a thorough understanding of what its brand is really worth to potential sponsors, Leicester will now need to carefully manage the flood of offers and opportunities it receives to both maximise revenue and create partnerships that will reinforce the club’s brand as well as its bottom line.”

A total of 11 UK-based football clubs made it into the list’s top 20 – unsurprisingly all members of the English Premiership.

1. Manchester United FC (£793m)

2. Real Madrid CF (£778m)

3. FC Barcelona Spain (£672m)

4. Manchester City FC (£613m)

5. FC Bayern München (£587m)

6. Arsenal FC (£581m)

7. Paris Saint-Germain FC (£536m)

8. Chelsea FC (£525m)

9. Liverpool FC (£507m)

10. Tottenham Hotspur FC (£299m)

11. Juventus FC (£194m)

12. Borussia Dortmund (£190m)

13. Everton FC (£189m)

14. West Ham United FC (£186m)

15. Club Atlético de Madrid (£180m)

16. Leicester City (160m)

17. Southampton FC (£151m)

18. FC Schalke 04 (£151m)

19. Stoke City FC (£144m)

20. AC Milan (£141m)