Recently, Forbes Magazine released their annual report of the top-20 highest-valued football clubs in the world. Much talk surrounded Manchester United leapfrogging Real Madrid and Barcelona for the top spot, but the list hits close to home as Schalke was named the 16th most expensive club in world football with an estimated worth of €562M ($629M).
The club’s one-year value fell 4 percent, tied for the biggest drop on the list.
As football fans know, wealth doesn’t necessarily translate to wins. Take West Ham for example. The Hammers are the 15th-richest club in the world, but are a mid-table Premier League side. AC Milan (13th-wealthiest) and Inter (18th) both find themselves in the top-20, yet neither have reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League since 2012. Both Milan powerhouses have failed to appear in the tournament for the past four seasons.
So fortunately, Schalke aren’t alone in terms of clubs not meeting expectations. However, the rest of the list is compiled of the world’s best on the pitch. In total, 14 of the top 20 are without question also the 20-best teams in Europe.
To be fair, Schalke have been the third-best club in Germany since 2011, reaching the UCL semi-finals in 2011 and reaching the round of 16 in 2013, 2014 and 2015. In recent years, the Royal Blues have been one of the 25-most successful teams in the world. The problem is the direction the club is headed.
Schalke narrowly qualified for European football at the end of the 2014/15 Bundesliga campaign with a 6th-place finish. That led round of 32 loss in the 2015/16 Europa League. Domestically, Schalke again barely reached Europe – by just two points – to earn a spot in this year’s Europa League, falling in the quarterfinals to Ajax in brutal fashion.
This past Bundesliga season was the second-worst in 17 years for the Gelsenkirchen side. A bottom half of the table finish is never acceptable for a club this size, even if it’s just a one-time thing. The quality of Schalke’s roster right now is that of a 35th-40th best club in Europe, nowhere close to the top 20.
It won’t be long before Schalke is off the list, especially with the recent rise of clubs like Leicester City, RB Leipzig, Hoffenheim, Napoli and Sevilla. Likely, the only Ruhr side that will be making Champions League appearances for the next couple of seasons will be Dortmund.
As unfathomable as it sounds for a club the size of Schalke, the main goal for the next season or two should be to avoid relegation battles. With the unbelievable quality and depth of the Bundesliga we’ll see next season – it’s easily the best league from top to bottom in the world with the additions of Stuttgart and Hannover – it will be a dogfight all season for places 4-18. After Bayern, Dortmund and Leipzig, anybody can beat anybody in Germany, and that’s a scary thought for Schalke who haven’t been involved in a relegation battle in 23 years.