The old adage of money making the world go round is certainly applicable in football, with the top four teams in Europe in a power struggle to rule financially. Manchester United have signed a number of lucrative sponsorship deals of late, however Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich are all as equally ambitious when it comes to monetising their presence as the leading brands in world football.

United recently posted a record third-quarter revenue of £91.7 million, largely down to a number of new sponsorships deals. The Aon deal, which runs until 2021, is reportedly worth £15 million a season and has seen the training ground renamed Aon Training Complex. A record shirt sponsorship with Chevrolet has been put in place to commence from 2014 – with the American giants to pay £45 million a year; double Aon’s current investment. With a new Nike kit deal, estimated to be worth between £58m and £70m a year, in the offing from July 2015, the future looks rosy for the Old Trafford outfit.

United have 36 companies worldwide that sponsor them, from household names to smaller and more obscure deals. The Red Devils now have an official social gaming partner in the form of Japanese firm gloop. A five-year partnership with the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) has been announced. Other lesser-known deals include Mister Potato as the official savoury snack partner, Kansai Paint as the official paint partner, Mamee as the official noodles partner of Manchester United for Asia, Oceania and Middle East and Globul as the official telecommunications partner of Manchester United in Bulgaria.

United’s obsession with signing more and more sponsorship deals has partially been to satisfy the debt burden but also to maintain their dominant position in European football with Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich all able to outspend United (not to mention domestic rivals Chelsea and Man City).

Madrid have announced that Emirates are set to replace Bwin as shirt sponsor, which will upgrade their current deal. Although it is not as lucrative as United’s agreement with Chevrolet, it will provide the Spanish capital city team with €30 million (£25.7 million) per year.  Adidas will continue its shirt sponsor of the Santiago Bernabeu club until 2019/20, at a figure of €32 million (£27.4 million) per year. Other commercial partners include Beiersdorf AG + Yamaha. A statement on the Forbes website recently stated that “Los Merengues are simply bigger, more profitable and growing faster than Manchester United.” Yes, that lopsided TV deal certainly helps, while United’s interest payments keep them pegged back.

Barcelona have always been a financial powerhouse, but the £25 million per year deal with Qatar Airways will boost the Blaugrana’s spending power. Barcelona have also recently signed a four-year extension on their deal with Africa-focused telecommunications group Etisalat, and their long standing partnership with Audi, which started in 2006, is set to run until 2014. The Camp Nou club also agreed its first international sponsorship deal in the Indian market with Nokia India in October 2012.

Newly crowned Champions League winners Bayern Munich also have commercial deals in place to see them at the forefront of European football for years to come. Their shirt sponsorship with Deutsche Telekom in 2009 was the most lucrative in history at the time, and currently provides the Bundesliga champions with £23.6 million per year. It was extended last year. The club lists its premium sponsors as Audi, Coca-Cola, Bwin, Samsung and Paulaner Brewery, amongst others.

Bayern were fifth on the Forbes rich list, and also are reaping the financial benefit of their stadium deal with Allianz; something the other three giants do not have. The German side’s sponsorship deals fall short of that of the other three, but not by much.

All in all United are sitting in a strong commercial position with its global sponsors, which will continue to see much-needed revenue come into the club. However, with the fight for European dominance in the forefront of the club’s mind, a number of formidable financial opponents are read to go toe-to-toe with the Premier League champions.