10 top-earning football clubs from shirt sales and merchandise – ranked

It wasn’t until the mid-1970s, more than a century after the FA Cup’s inauguration as the first major football competition, that fans could buy the same kit as their sporting idols.

Admiral pioneered the newfangled idea in 1973, manufacturing Leeds United’s iconic white strip in their title-winning campaign after a travelling salesman had a chance encounter with manager Don Revie at the club’s training ground.

Five decades on, shirt sales and the flood of accompanying merchandise are a staple of each club’s financial portfolio. Leeds may have been the pioneers but just miss out on the continent’s list of the ten highest earners (they sit 16th). Here are the sides that have out-sold the rest of Europe.

All data via UEFA‘s European Club Finance and Investment Landscape report for the 2023 financial year.

Mickey van de Ven

Summer arrival Micky van de Ven sporting Tottenham’s 2023/24 kit / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Daniel Levy thinks in the long term. In 2018, Tottenham Hotspur’s chairman committed the club to a remarkable 15-year contract with Nike.

While the agreement afforded Spurs an unparalleled level of security, it prevents them from snagging a higher offer in future years. Given the club’s place in the top ten – above Premier League champions Manchester City, among others – Levy’s forethought has been validated.

Andrea Cambiaso

Juventus’ black and white stripes are iconic / Jonathan Moscrop/GettyImages

The design director of adidas’ football department, Inigo Turner, tried to look on the bright side. “Sometimes jerseys take a little longer to become a favourite,” he offered after Juventus’ kit for the 2019/20 season was pilloried for its controversial half-and-half design.

“It could be that the team needs to wear it a little bit and then people will go: ‘Yeah, now I’m really used to it. I really like it’.” Turner’s fantasy never came to pass and Juve have returned to their traditional black and white stripes ever since.

Thiago Silva - Soccer Player - Born 1984

Thiago Silva is still going strong in Chelsea’s famous strip at 39 / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Chelsea’s loosely themed 90s kit for the 2023/24 season harked back to an even earlier era as the club began the new campaign without a main shirt sponsor.

It wasn’t until the end of September that Chelsea finally came to a £40m arrangement with Infinite Athlete. Many fans may have preferred a shirt unblemished by any company logo across the chest but the club’s accountants would certainly have been pushing for the deal.

Declan Rice

Arsenal were able to make Declan Rice the club’s most expensive signing in 2023 thanks in part to the deal with adidas / Diego Souto/GettyImages

Arsenal have swollen their merchandise revenue – leaping from £56m to £76m in the space of a year – thanks not only to the kits worn throughout the season.

The forward-thinking club – who released a strip designed by fashion giant Stella McCartney exclusively for the women’s team this season – are responsible for an unrelenting stream of stylish training apparel. Few teams play upon their fanbase’s weakness for nostalgia as mercilessly as Arsenal.

Kylian Mbappé

It will be harder to negotiate a new kit deal at PSG without Kylian Mbappe / Christian Liewig – Corbis/GettyImages

Michael Jordan is eight years older than Paris Saint-Germain but the basketball icon’s signature clothing line at Nike paired up with the French champions in a seismic move for the nouveau-riche club.

PSG have stores in London, New York and Tokyo.

Nasser Al-Khelaifi has lofty ambitions. According to Fabien Allegre, chief brand officer at PSG, the chairman wants to “make the greatest sports franchise in the sports industry”. Commercially, there is still some way to go.

Marcus Rashford

Marcus Rashford is Man Utd’s highest-paid player / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

Manchester United have been fixated by their status as the best-supported club on the globe since the controversial Glazer family took over and sought to maximise profits in 2005.

According to an extensive investigation launched by market research firm TNS shortly after the Glazer takeover, 5% of the population singled out United as their favourite club. Nevertheless, all these fans still haven’t bought more merchandise than four of their European counterparts.

Luis Diaz

Liverpool switched to Nike from New Balance in 2019 / James Gill – Danehouse/GettyImages

Liverpool’s hierarchy was so desperate to extricate themself from an agreement with New Balance in place of Nike’s improved offer that they took the retailers to high court in 2019.

The Reds won the case when the court found that New Balance’s claim of being able to sell Liverpool shirts in 40,000 stores was “utterly fanciful”.

Harry Edward Kane

Harry Kane has donned Bayern Munich’s famous kit this season / Mika Volkmann/GettyImages

The first piece of non-footwear merchandise that adidas ever sold was a tracksuit designed for Bayern Munich icon Franz Beckbenbauer in 1967.

The two German giants of fashion and football have been intertwined ever since, with Bayern committed to trotting out in the three famous stripes until at least 2030.

Jude Bellingham

It’s easier to sell a shirt Jude Bellingham wears so well / Angel Martinez/GettyImages

Carlo Ancelotti is always keen to remind everyone how heavy Real Madrid’s shirt is. Rather than a slight on manufacturers adidas, it’s a well-worn cliche that plays on the weight of history which comes from representing a club of Madrid’s stature.

Yet, Jude Bellingham has breezed through his debut season in Spain’s capital. “Personality, more than quality,” Ancelotti explained, “means a shirt like Real Madrid’s doesn’t weigh so much.” The thread count clearly has nothing to do with it.

Frenkie de Jong, Raphinha

Frenkie de Jong is always happy to be wearing Barcelona’s kit / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

Barcelona need all the help they can get financially. The reigning La Liga champions were limited to spending just £2.9m in last summer’s transfer window and were only able to force through the addition of Vitor Roque after emergency funds were released in light of Gavi’s season-ending injury.

The club with the biggest kit deal in Europe now make their academy players pay for a breakfast service that used to be complimentary. Every little helps.




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