The biggest clubs in world football

Gareth-Bale-Real-Madrid1

Using freely available online data about football clubs and combining it with the geographic locations of their stadia from Wikipedia, I have created a map of the world’s current twenty-five biggest football clubs using CartoDB.

 

Definition and method

Big
Large, as in size; or of considerable importance.

How big a club is across the globe is led by successes on the pitch, geographical location and successful commercial operations and marketing. I have taken values that I believe to be measures, in footballing terms, of both size and importance.

Performance and ranking

I wanted my index to be current yet at the same time, truly big clubs are built over time and so I have decided to use the continental coefficients as a measure of on the pitch success as opposed to domestic performance.

Average attendance and social media following

How well a team performance and how well it sells itself as a brand will ultimately be seen by its support and following. So I used average home attendances along with Facebook followings as measured by ‘likes’ on official pages. I added bonus scores for those clubs also identified in the top listings by Google Top Trends and The Social League’s measure of Twitter.

Finances

A club’s size and importance, often in the form of power and influence, can be ascertained to a degree from its finances. I mainly focussed on revenue using figures published by Deloitte in their ‘Football Money League’ but I added bonus scores based upon valuation, revenue and operating income for those teams who also appeared in the Forbes rich list.

 

Results

I then combined all of the above using a hideously over-complicated formula in order to produce my own scores and rankings to identify the World’s twenty-five biggest clubs.

Okay, it wasn’t quite that easy!

I was not going to create results for every football club on the planet of course! I spent many days researching the subject online and eventually created a table for what I believed to be the ‘biggest 50 clubs’. I hoped this would give me the extra room for error required to generate my top 25, however the more articles and indices I read, the more clubs were added until I eventually decided I had exhausted all candidates with a list of 75 football clubs.

The continental footballing bodies, other than UEFA, do not make it easy to access their club coefficient data. Also many football clubs outside of Europe do not publish their financial data. Many seem happy to make out they are rich, but this is usually based upon owner’s wealth rather than the revenue that the club can actually attract. So some educated guesses based upon a lot of online research had to be made. Therefore I will not publish results for all 75 clubs.

I did consider adding uncertainty to the map but for those clubs ranked 26th to 75th but I felt the uncertainty was too great. However, none of these teams made the top 25 anyhow with the two exceptions of Boca Juniors in 24th and Flamengo in 25th positions for whom revenue was based upon various other online reports and weighted slightly downwards in line with how the Deloitte figures for other clubs compare with media reports. Whether they are really ‘bigger’ clubs than Roma, Lyon or Hamburg for example, all of whom narrowly missed the cut, I’ll let you decide.

Real-Madrid-Wallpaper-Celebration

Real Madrid came out on top, narrowly beating fierce rivals Barcelona. In third place, Manchester United remain the biggest club in England – much to my annoyance as a Liverpool fan!

Click here for full table of data (sources and dates in headings).

 

The Map

Each club has been shown by it’s club crest sized proportional to it’s score and ranking: the bigger the badge, the bigger the club. Click on the club crest to view more information. Once again, the badges used are an open resource from the web.

The button on the left-hand side beneath the zoom controls will expand the map to fullscreen.

Also available on CartoDB.com

When I have more time I will create a custom base map and investigate pop-up customisation using HTML and/or Leaflet. If I have any success I’ll share as a follow-up tutorial-style post.

 

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