Manchester United, The UK, And the Premier League Leading in Licensing is an online source of trade news for the ever growing global licensing industry reaching all aspects “from licensors and licensees, through to retailers and supporting service companies.”  Started 5 years ago, it wasn’t until this month that the site branched out into print media and they did so with a bit of a show.

The site’s first print foray was in fact a partially retrospective, partially concurrent assessment of 2013’s most influential brands.  The seemingly paradoxical retrospective/concurrent rankings come from the fact that while the list, divided into four separate categories, “is a reflection of the properties which the industry itself believes have made the most impact over the past 12 months”, they also admit that the list is also about “highlighting those brands to watch and showcasing those which licensees may not have considered working with before.”

As mentioned before, the 2013 and inaugural edition of the Power List, as it’s called, is divided into four categories, of which only one is really pertinent here at Business of Soccer, the sports category.

Voted on by 200 executives across the range of the licensing industry including owners, retailers, licensees, media and event firms, the list naturally covers all sports and is not exclusive to soccer, though almost half of the brands were directly soccer related with two that were partially related.

Manchester United was the top dog in terms of soccer representation though it came in second on the overall list behind the London Olympics.  The next best club was Liverpool in 5th place, followed by FC Barcelona in 6th, Chelsea in 7th, Arsenal and the Premier League tied for 10th, The FA at 15th, Tottenham in 16th, followed by the World Cup in 17th and Manchester City tied for 21st with four other non-soccer related properties.  Strangely Real Madrid did not make the list but if the Microsoft naming rights deal for the Bernabeu goes through then they might not find themselves excluded next year.

While the 200 judges were asked to take into account “commercial impact, creativity, innovation, longevity and retail presence” in the voting process it seems safe to note that a portion of Manchester United’s position comes from the sheer number of sponsorship agreements the club has agreed including Unilever, The Commercial Bank of Qatar, Emirates NBD Bank, Kansai paint among others that include obvious licensing agreements for the Manchester United crest and various logos as well as player images.  Many of their agreements are regionally specific to their highest growing market in South-East Asia with a number of smaller telecom deals in place that look to boost ManchesterUnitedTV.

Beyond Manchester United though, it was interesting to note that Barcelona was the only non Premier League club on the list.  For all the talk surrounding Bundesliga clubs and their solid financial footing, it was still the Premier League that took the spoils, to the point where the Premier League’s brand itself made the list as well as the British FA.  The list almost looks as though voting was primarily UK based but the presence of WWE Wrestling, NBA, NFL, Ferrari and Red Bull shows the list’s global reach.

Another important point is that while Manchester United took 2nd in the Power List, it took top honors at the 2013 Licensing Awards which covers the UK licensing industry and every club on’s list including Barcelona were finalists for the Best Sports Licensing Property.

With the largest Television deals and among the highest number of competitors in the Champions League, the Premier League continues to state its case as the most popular league in the world.  Licensing may seem like an obscure category to lead in but understand that anytime a club’s logo is on a scarf, a hat, a Unilever soap box, an Audi commercial or any other physical product or advertisement, there is no way that it was possible without the existence and negotiation of a licensing agreement.  Brands are so important and valuable now that the official images that any brand’s consumer base is exposed to is carefully crafted.

Matchday ticketing and broadcasting may contribute heavily to a club’s revenue stream, but commercial and retail revenue plays a major part as well and licensing lays the foundation for that success.

*Here’s a Link to the complete 2013 Power List*


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Reporting on the business side of the world's game.