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The Money League overachievers

Last week, the annual release of the Deloitte Money League prompted discussion around how some clubs were failing to convert financial performance into on-field results. Observations were most notably made around English clubs, with, for example, Manchester United (3rd in Money League) and Aston Villa (23rd) clearly underperforming domestically.

What many reviews of the report have neglected, however, are the success stories; the teams that didn’t make the Deloitte top 20 list but could be reasonably considered as an elite European team.

Using data from Club Elo (a website that ranks clubs across Europe based on past results), we can review which teams were historically top 20 teams in Europe, but not top 20 in terms of revenues.


Before the turn of the decade, Spanish teams consistently punched above their weight; they were by no means ‘poor’ but demonstrated that the financial muscle of English, Italian and German clubs at the time were not the sole determinants of success.

More recently, German and the biggest Portuguese clubs have overachieved. Historically even English clubs (Everton and Aston Villa) have punched above their financial weight, although of course these clubs are now in the Money League’s top 30.

The point of the table above is to show that it is possible for clubs to achieve beyond their means. What are or have these clubs done differently? Can we speak to the people responsible for this relative success? And what inspiration can we take?

For many the clubs on the list may still be in another financial league, but the principles of overachieving relative to means will be relevant in any competitive environment. We know from history that wages do not always equate to wins and that there is a cost to going nowhere; the absence of successful clubs from the Money League also shows that there are exceptions to the rule.

About Omar Chaudhuri

Omar Chaudhuri has created 129 entries.