Manchester United's brand 'devalued' by weak season
The value of the Manchester United brand has been damaged by a disappointing season according to a study by consultancy Brand Finance.
They say United's brand is worth $739m (£439m), down $98m on last year.
That makes it the third most valuable football brand after Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
Real Madrid's victory in the Champions League final on Saturday helped boost its brand value. The club already has the biggest sales of any football club.
The authors say an improvement in the Spanish economy could help the club retain the top brand spot.
And they add that "with arguably the finest player in the world in the shape of Ronaldo" and now a first Champions League title since 2002, "Real's brand is back on a solid footing".
Gareth Bale helped Real Madrid win their 10th European Cup as they finally overcame neighbours Atletico Madrid in a compelling Champions League final in Lisbon.
But despite Real's strong season, Bayern Munich has the most valuable brand in football for the second year running according to the report.
The authors point to the Bavarian club's record points haul in winning the Bundesliga title in the 2013-14 season.
English clubs Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are placed from fifth to eighth most valuable.
Manchester United will be hoping the appointment of Louis van Gaal will reverse its fortunes both on and off the pitch next season.
Speaking on Dutch TV station RTL last week, Mr Van Gaal said his immediate objectives were to return United to "number one spot" as soon as possible, and that fans "will think they are champions of England again within a year".
The Brand Finance report said that "shrewd commercial management" has shielded Manchester United's brand from more serious damage.
"However, another season in the wilderness, outside the Champions League, will see brand value truly plunge, and leave few sponsors willing to do a deal with the [Red] Devils," the report said.
For the three months to the end of March, Manchester United reported profits of £11m, up from £3.6m a year ago. The club also posted record revenues of £115.5m for the period.
Brand Finance defines brand value as the cost another party would have to pay to license the use of a brand.
To calculate that cost the consultancy looked at a range of factors, including the mix of revenue, value of squad, and club heritage.