If Real Madrid and Barcelona progress to the European Champions League final, it will mean not only another all-Spanish showdown – but also a clash between the world’s two most valuable football teams.
Real tops Forbes’ latest ranking with a value of $3.26 billion, while Barca is not far behind on $3.16 billion.
The Madrid club, which faces a 2-1 semifinal deficit against Juventus as it seeks to win an 11th European title, has topped the financial magazine’s standings for the past three seasons.
However, the gap between Spain’s top two teams has closed significantly in the past five years and the Catalan side hopes to soon take top spot.
“FC Barcelona’s staggering economic development is patently clear,” the La Liga’s leader’s first vice-president Javier Faus, who heads the club’s finance department, said in a statement.
“With the club now valued just $100 million short of Real Madrid, it’s the smallest gap for the last five years.
“Barcelona has risen from fifth to second in the ranking of the world’s most valuable clubs after multiplying its value by three, and is poised to take over at top spot in future studies.”
Forbes said Real’s performance was under-pinned by revenue of almost $750 million over the past year – the most by any sports team.
English club Manchester United – despite a season without Champions League football – was in third place, valued at $3.1 billion.
However United is expected to climb in the next year, thanks largely to its new $1.139 billion kit deal with Adidas, while after that it will be boosted by the Premier League’s record-breaking $8 billion domestic TV rights deal.
German league winner Bayern Munich – beaten 3-0 by Barca in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal – was fourth at $2.35 billion, with Forbes saying it was at a disadvantage due to the Bundesliga’s less lucrative broadcast revenues.
Recently dethroned English Premier League champion Manchester City came in fifth with a valuation of $1.38 billion and can hope to increase that next season when its stadium is upgraded to a 55,000 capacity.
Chelsea, which has already clinched the 2014-15 Premier League title, was sixth on $1.37 billion ahead of London rival Arsenal ($1.31 billion) and U.S.-owned Liverpool ($982 million).