Exclusive: Manchester United lose position as world's number 1 in shirt sales

28 March 2019

Shirt sale manchester united real madrid top clubs
Photo: Getty Images Manchester United used to be the number one football club in the world selling shirts - but another club has outperformed The Red Devils in that area.

Five clubs in the world sell more than 1 million shirts on a yearly basis.

One English club amongst those clubs with the biggest rise in shirt sales.

Despite being beaten by a few clubs in shirt sale, Barcelona managed to close the most lucrative deal with Nike.

Real Madrid have regained their status as the biggest club in terms of the most official replica shirt sales, according to authoritative new research.

The Champions League holders club sold an average of 1.89 million shirts per year in the four-season period from 2014-15 to 2017-18 inclusive, putting them in the No1 spot in world football.

Dr Rohlmann counts sales of official genuine replica club shirts. Counterfeits and copies are not part of these totals.

The data was compiled by industry insider Dr Peter Rohlmann and his team at the consulting bureau, PR Marketing, published exclusively by offthepitch.com.

Manchester United are No2 in the list, averaging 1.87 million shirts per year in the period under review ahead of Barcelona in third, Bayern Munich in fourth and Liverpool in fifth.

These five clubs are the only clubs to produce over one million shirt sales every year.


Bonuses can be significant

There is major financial significance in being able to shift huge amounts of official merchandise. The more gear a club can sell, the more money a manufacturer will pay to be an official kit supplier.

Madrid confirmed a new £950 million, 10-year deal with adidas in November, the equivalent of £95 million a year. United have a deal with adidas worth £75 million a year, while Barcelona has a deal with Nike worth around £140 million a year.

It is always difficult to compare these deals, due to the fact that some deals are including bonuses – others are without. And the bonuses can be significant.

Bayern Munich’s 10-year deal with Adidas is worth £645 million, while Liverpool are in discussions with parties over a new kit deal in time for next season. The Anfield club currently has a kit deal with New Balance worth £45 million a year, with club officials looking to seal a deal worth in the region of £75 million a year.

Dr Rohlmann is a veteran analyst who has authored a number of in-depth studies into kit supply deals and sales by Europe’s elite clubs.

Liverpool see major growth

His research found Arsenal, Chelsea, PSG, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund as the remaining top 10 most popular shirts.

In the previous research by Dr Rohlmann, Manchester United were found to be the biggest selling club, shifting an average of 1.78 million between 2010-11 and 2013-14.

Dr Rohlmann counts sales of official genuine replica club shirts. Counterfeits and copies are not part of these totals.

Aside from Real Madrid moving back to the top spot, the other major movers in recent years have been Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool and PSG - all have seen shirt sales increase by more than 200,000 a year.

"Football jerseys are more popular than ever"

Shirt sales revenues are split between manufacturers and clubs, with the kit makers raking in the lion’s share.

Dr Rohlmann’s latest research found the average shirt price this season of an adult home shirt across the major European leagues was £74 (short sleeved, without personalised name-printing or Premier League badge, which typically costs a further £10 - £20). The £74 price for a shirt is a rise of 18 per cent since 2011.

Rohlmann said: “Generally, the sales of replica shirts have increased at a constant growth rate. Football jerseys are more popular than ever and their attractive designs increasingly mean fans want to wear them away from match days”.