(CNN)Both at home and abroad, Manchester City have swept all before them this season.
Pep Guardiola’s side have scored 78 goals in 28 games in the English Premier League and the Champions League — an average of nearly three goals a match — and have lost just once. They’ve done so playing a thrilling brand of football that has fans and pundits cooing with delight.
If City has become accustomed to breaking records on the pitch this season, the Premier League side is now also dominating off the field, according to a new football finance report.
In a study conducted by Soccerex — organizers of the world’s biggest football finance forum — City were deemed the world’s most financially powerful club, beating traditional powerhouses like Real Madrid, Barcelona and cross-city rivals Manchester United.
David Wright, Soccerex Marketing Director, said the company’s first study into football finance highlighted how the football landscape has changed globally over the last two decades.
“We wanted to create a study that provided a broader evaluation of football finances, one that reflected the modern reality of football, impacted by increased owner investment and the need for better financial management,” Wright said in a statement.
“The results have certainly been eye-catching.”
City’s rivals are also starting to realize the implications of the financial might of the club, which is owned by an Abu Dhabi-based multibillionaire.
In December, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who has spent over $400 million on players since his arrival at the start of the 2016/2017 season, complained about how City had bought defenders for the usual value of strikers at the start of this season.
“It is not enough,” Mourinho said of United’s recent spending after his team drew 2-2 with Burnley. “And the price for the big clubs, the price for the big clubs is different from the other clubs. So the big, historical clubs are normally punished in the market for that history.
“When you tell [describe] a club like Manchester United, do you think AC Milan is not as big as us? You think they are not as big as we are? Do you think Real Madrid are not as big as we are? You think Inter Milan is not as big as we are? There are many big clubs and you say big clubs, I know what is a big club.”
While City, managed by former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach Guardiola, came top, fellow EPL side Arsenal were second and big-spending French club Paris St-Germain, who broke the world record last summer to acquire Neymar from Barcelona, third.
Reflecting China’s growing influence in the sport, Guangzhou Evergrande, regarded as the country’s glamor side, were fourth — two places ahead of reigning Spanish champions and 12-time European Cup winners Real Madrid and nine places above Barca, who are 13th.
According to the study, the financial clout of Barca, five-time winners of the European Cup, and Real was stifled by the clubs’ member ownership structures and the lack of potential owner investment.
However, the study did point out that should Real be capitalized on the stock markets, their overall financial power would make them worth more than any other club, regardless of the wealth of billionaire owners.
China on the rise
Nine Chinese Super League clubs, which have spent heavily in the last couple of years to attract superstar players, were in the top 100, equal to Spain and more than France, Germany and Italy.
Five of the top 10 clubs play in the EPL, while Italy’s Juventus are eighth and German league champions Bayern Munich 10th.
The US is the second most-represented country in the top 30 with five teams. This is because of their “solid business models, high-value assets and strong investment.”
The new annual report ranks 100 clubs across the world based on their finances, factoring five variables: playing assets, fixed assets, money in the bank, potential owner investment and net debt.
Soccerex’s top 10:
- Manchester City (4.883 points)
- Arsenal (4.559)
- PSG (4.128)
- Guangzhou Evergrande (3.423)
- Tottenham Hotspur (2.591)
- Real Madrid (2.579)
- Manchester United (2.579)
- Juventus (2.260)
- Chelsea (2.073)
- Bayern Munich (2.806)
Soccerex’s report found that the owners of the top 100 ranked clubs had a combined net worth of just over $571 billion.
Last year Deloitte, which has produced its Football Money League for 20 years, named Manchester United as the world’s richest club, with Barca second and Real third. Manchester City did not make the top 20.
Unlike Deloitte’s financial list, Soccerex has taken into account the wealth of shareholders, owing to the potential investment club owners can make.
Why are City on the rise?
Bought by Abu Dhabi-based multibillionaire Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2008, City has over the last decade become a major force in world football.
The club’s owners have invested $781 million in the playing squad and infrastructure and the billion dollar television deal signed by EPL clubs has further boosted the coffers.
In November, City — who top the EPL table after a record-breaking 17 win sequence — announced record revenues of $639m for the 2016-17 season, though profits were down from $27m to $1.49m during that period.
According to the Guardian, the corporation which owns the club (City Football Group) already owns, or co-owns, six clubs on four continents and the contracts of 240 male professional players and two dozen women as it seeks to dominate football globally.
On the pitch, the investment in City has paid dividends, with the club twice winning the EPL title (2011-12 & 2013-14) and are overwhelming favorites to capture a third with Guardiola’s side leading nearest challengers United by 15 points.