LONDON - Europe's top 20 football clubs earned more than four billion euros between them last season, bucking the financial downturn and leaving them well equipped to comply with UEFA's financial fair play rules.
Deloitte's football money league, published on Thursday, showed an unchanged top six with Real Madrid and Barcelona leading the way for the second successive year.
Real's revenue last season was 438.6 million euros, up from 401.4 in 2008/09, while Barcelona made 398.1 and will see a substantial rise after securing a 165-million euro, five-year shirt sponsorship deal - the first time the club has had a paid-for shirt sponsor having carried the UNICEF logo.
Manchester United, who topped the first six editions of the money league from 1996/97, are third with 349.8 million euros.
Bayern Munich are fourth and there are five more English Premier League clubs in the top 12 with Arsenal (5th), Chelsea (6th), Liverpool (8th), Manchester City (11th) and Champions League newcomers Tottenham Hotspur (12th).
City were the big climbers, up from 20th (152.8 euros to 102.2), and they and Tottenham are both likely to move into the top 10 next year.
"On-pitch performance and participation in the Champions League are essential in maintaining a top spot in the money league," Alan Switzer, director in Deloitte's sports business group told Reuters.
"Increased TV revenues tend to also gain rival clubs so the main way for clubs to climb the table is through matchday revenue, particularly a new stadium.
"That is what happened when Arsenal moved from Highbury to Emirates Stadium and if lifted them from around 13th to fifth.
"If Tottenham and to a lesser extent West Ham United were to move into the Olympic stadium it would have a significant impact on their revenues."
"The figures show the continued resilience of football's top clubs in the global economic downturn and the top clubs proved themselves well-placed to meet these economic challenges," Switzer said.
Commenting on the potential implications of UEFA's financial fair play (FFP) rules, which come into force from next year, Deloitte sports group director Paul Rawnsley said: "Outside exceptional circumstances, such as investment in stadia or the arrival of new owners, FFP will require clubs to balance their books, ensuring expenditure does not significantly exceed revenue over time.
"Therefore, the strong showing of English clubs in the money league provides encouragement about the future competitive health of English football."
Switzer added: "We haven't done the sums yet to establish whether clubs satisfy the fair play rules but they have known about them for a long time and we're confident that they will be coming up with strategies to deal with them."
The revenue figures on the list exclude transfer fees and sales-related taxes.