United are just adrift of Real Madrid in the new Football Money League published by business advisory firm Deloitte. Deloitte’s Paul Rawnsley believes it is only a matter of time before they return to the top when the impact of the new television deal is felt.
The Premiership champions previously occupied fourth spot in the table.
Real topped the league in the 2006-07 season for the third year in a row with their revenue increasing by 20% to £236m.
However, United enjoyed a 30% rise to £212m, ahead of Barcelona, Chelsea and Arsenal in third, fourth and fifth respectively.
The Red Devils had dominated the money league since its inception in 1996-97 before Real took over.
“Real Madrid are still at the top after an impressive 20% growth in revenue,” he said.”But Manchester United closed the gap and have the potential to catch Real up and take that top spot possibly next season or the season thereafter.
“To some extent, that will depend on how they perform relative to Real Madrid in the Champions League.”
The figures take into account revenue made from ticket sales, broadcasting rights and merchandising.
Six English clubs - United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle - make the top 20, with Scotland’s Celtic in 17th place.
Manchester City and West Ham, as well as Rangers, have dropped out the top 20, but remained within striking distance along with Aston Villa and Everton.
WORLD’S WEALTHIEST CLUBS
1. Real Madrid: $AU513.48m
2. Man Utd: $460.84m
3. Barcelona: $424.6m
4. Chelsea: $414.12m
5. Arsenal: $386.08m
6. AC Milan: $332.6m
7. Bayern Munich: $326.72m
8. Liverpool: $290.10m
9. Inter Milan: $285.44m
10. AS Roma:$230.64m
Source: Deloitte: 2006/7