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Forbes Ranks Roma as 18th Most Valuable Club in the World

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Hey, look at that, Ma. Top Twenty!

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While there are a host of 'World's Most Valuable Club' publications hitting newsstands every year (do those even exist anymore?), the folks at Forbes Magazine are the true heavyweights of football finances. Today, Forbes released their 2016 list topped by, surprise surprise, Real Madrid. Zizou's crew was followed closely by Barcelona and Manchester United, respectively, each of whom are valued north of $3B, the only such clubs to earn that distinction.

The rest of the top ten is as follows:

  1. Real Madrid
  2. Barcelona
  3. Manchester United
  4. Bayern Munich
  5. Arsenal
  6. Manchester City
  7. Chelsea
  8. Liverpool
  9. Juventus
  10. Tottenham

While AC Milan (12th) fell just shy of the top ten, the Old Lady of Italian Football was the only member of the peninsula to not only crack the top ten, but to earn a valuation in excess of $1B. In addition to Juve and MIlan, Inter Milan, Roma and Napoli all fell within Forbes' top 20, though they were all some order of magnitude below the top ten; we're talking a difference of billions here, folks.

Anyway, onto Roma. The Giallorossi, valued at $508M, came in 18th on that list, thanks in part to their $217M in revenue last year. Forbes broke down each clubs valuation into four subsections: Matchday, Broadcasting, Commercial and Brand. Nearly 57% of Roma's valuation was predicated upon their broadcasting revenue, followed by commercial, brand and matchday.

While falling among the world's top 20 most valuable clubs is all well and good, there are a few noticeable concerns, namely their operating income. Quite simply, Roma is operating in the red, with a -$19M in operating income, which marks the second consecutive year the club has had negative operating income. This figure represents quite a precipitous fall from 2012 when they chalked up $25M in operating income.

Beyond this bit of bad news, which one would presume could be ameliorated with increased sponsorship and matchday revenues, Roma has a 36% debt to value ratio. While I'm no economist, I can tell you that's probably not good, to say the least. Among the rest of the top 20, Roma's debt to value ratio is only "bested", that is to say worse, by Inter Milan's 43%, while Milan is right behind Roma at 32%...something is rotten in the kingdom of Den...err Italy. Indeed, as these three clubs are the only on the list to exceed a 22% debt to value ratio.

So what's the takeaway then? Well, quite simply, turning around and growing the value of a sports franchise, particularly one with some sizeable chips stacked against it, is a long con, making the cliche, Rome wasn't built in a day, all too apt.

In the immediate sense, this news, coupled with Roma's FFP transgressions, should temper our transfer market dreams somewhat, but, and I feel like we've been saying this for four years now, if they can get a sponsorship deal, if they can advance in the Champions League consistently and if they finally erect the Stadio della Roma, we might have a chance to get back in the black.