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The latest figures for football club earnings are out, sending out another resounding ‘meh’ to wider economic gloom.  Earnings for the top 20 clubs around Europe rose 10% from the previous year to a combined total of almost €5 billion, with top dog Real Madrid alone trousering a cool half bil’ in 2012. Income for the top British clubs averaged at a not-too shabby €200 million, which fans may have something to say about given some of the recent ‘tweaks’ to pricing.

It’s all about the fans

But even Real Madrid would be real nada without its fans. And since we’ve constantly got Facebook data on our minds we couldn’t resist trying to correlate these earnings figures with Facebook fanbase.

And correlation there is!

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The graph above plots the top 20 earners against their respective audience sizes on Facebook. The latter is taken from Facebook’s ad platform and is primarily based on the number of people who have ‘liked’ pages representing the club or have included the club in their list of interests.

Generally, the larger the club’s fanbase on Facebook, the higher its earnings. In stat-speak, we see a fairly strong R2 (coefficient of determination) value of 0.73, where a value of 1 indicates a perfect positive correlation and 0 indicates a total non-correlation. The mathematical strength of the correlation is let down by a handful of anomalies, as we can plainly see on the graph.

Too cool for school

So why have some clubs bucked the trend?

First of all, Real Madrid’s earnings were exceptionally high. It was a record-breaking income matched by a record-breaking performance, having emerged champion of La Liga with the highest tally of goals and points in the Spanish league’s history. The team’s virtuosic form translated to its bottom line, increasing match day ticket takings by €2.6m, with the high volume of international friendlies also boosting broadcast revenue by €15.7m. 

Bayern’s trophy-less season failed to dampen their financial standings, with most of their home matches playing to a full stadium. But more importantly, the addition of Imtech to an already diverse portfolio of corporate partners bumped up commercial revenue for the year to €201- the highest ever in the history of the money league.

Dortmund’s electric form last season is most likely the sole reason behind their abnormally large earnings.
Winning the double increased match day ticket revenues to €25.4m, aided by an average attendance of nearly 80,000 and inflated ticket prices. This was accompanied by an 88% increase in broadcast revenue from Dortmund’s brief and unsuccessful foray into Champions League football. 

Photo credit: Flickr user JanSolo