Forbes published their yearly world's most valuable soccer clubs article today, based on revenues and income for the 2013-14 season, and Arsenal came in with an estimated value of $1.31 billion -- 7th most valuable in the world. Tops on the list, Real Madrid, was estimated to be valued at an eye-watering $3.26 billion:
A year ago, Manchester City ($865m) and Chelsea ($868m) were well below Arsenal ($1.33) in these rankings, but each of the clubs were able to exponentially increase their commercial revenue while also achieving a 0% Debt/Value ratio (Arsenal has a 30% ratio, thanks to the stadium debt neither City or Chelsea have. However, City doesn't own their stadium and Chelsea have long owed nothing on Stamford Bridge but continue to lose profits thanks to the Bridge's capacity, or lack thereof).
As with most of these rankings that come out from various publications, there are a couple caveats to be made here with the first one already mentioned a few times. These are estimates from Forbes, not actual valuations. Secondly, as with most things accounting, there's more than one way to derive total value. In Forbes' words:
"...keep in mind that revenues and operating income are for the 2013-14 season, converted into U.S. dollars based on average exchange rate for the 2013-14 season. Team values are enterprise values (equity plus net debt) based on the team’s current stadium deal (unless new stadium is pending) based on April 22, 2015 exchange rates. Operating income is earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, player trading and disposal of player registrations.
The reason I mention this is to say Forbes' valuations are already being challenged by a couple people who've done a lot of work towards finding a true, honest method in club valuation:
Forbes undervalues Chelsea and Arsenal by a combined $870 million, based on much more reliable MMM model.— Jake Cohen (@JakeFCohen) May 6, 2015
If you're the type who wants to know a bit more about the MMM model, or the Markham Multivariant Model, here you go. I enjoy reading about these sort of matters and studies and I have to say this one's a bit over my head, so if there's any enterprising commenter who wishes to dive into this model to provide a bit more detail in the comments, I'd gladly welcome and encourage your findings.
All in all, club valuation isn't the biggest determinant of club success, but more a way for billionaires to properly gauge a market value if they're in the mood to kick a few tires. Arsenal, regardless of what method is used, is in fantastic financial health (while still not maximizing their true commercial revenue potential, but that's another story), and won't be heading downwards anytime soon.