How do you separate a big club from a small club? A giant from a minnow? Is it the financial resources? Sponsorship deals? Historic achievements and legacy? Stadium capacity or global following? League position and performance on the pitch?
Here are the 5 factors I believe separate the greatest football clubs from the rest:
1. Total Generated Revenue
It doesn’t matter how profitable a club is, what affects it’s size is the amount of income the club is able to generate. This is the best measure of supporter perception we can take. The greater the club’s value in a supporter’s eyes, the more time and money they are willing to invest. This investment goes into purchase of merchandise, match-day tickets, higher television viewing and it also affects sponsor decisions.
Supporter perception therefore directly affects commercial, broadcasting and match-day revenue, the three largest sources of a football club’s income. Generated revenues are a clear indication of what fans think of their club, and there is no such thing as a club without fans.
2. Performance in the UEFA Champions League
Calm down, I know this is a European competition and this excludes some decently sized clubs, but the fact remains that the biggest clubs in the world are European. And the UEFA Champions League trophy is the ultimate achievement a European club can obtain. A good run in the Champion’s League can also put a club back on people’s radars. Despite convincingly winning the Serie A title, 17 points clear of nearest rivals Roma, it was Juventus’ journey to the UEFA Champions League final which put the club’s name on everyone’s lips.
3. History and Legacy
Take clubs like SL Benfica, AC Milan and Ajax which haven’t ranked among the very best in Europe for a few years. They have amassed a massive dynasty over the years and while their performances of late may have suffered, many would still consider them greater clubs that this year’s finalists, Atletico Madrid.
4. Consistent Success
Consistency is key. Some clubs come into the limelight for a few years, are unable to sustain their success and quickly fall back into the abyss. To be considered great, you have to perform and win titles, year after year. A few years without any major titles can see a club’s status slowly sink lower and lower. Take Liverpool who haven’t won any major titles since their 2004-2005 UEFA Champion`s League and 2005-2006 FA Cup (except for a 2011-2012 League Cup, with a penalty shoot-out against Cardiff deciding the final). Leicester have just won the English Premier League, only time will tell whether they’ll consistently grow towards greatness or simply fall off everyone’s radars within a couple of years.
Passion on the pitch, passion on the stands. The emotion the club and players can instill, the stories they create and the joy they give. It becomes not just about the club, but about a cause. These are the reasons that football is one of the greatest sports on the planet. Would you be ready to die for your club? Some fans would, and it is that level of dedication and commitment which propel a club to greatness.
What do you think? Do you agree with our list? Tell us what you think really makes a club great in the comments section below…