In all likelihood, Jose Mourinho's first season at Old Trafford will not end with Manchester United lifting the title, but the club could top an altogether different table for some time to come.

Last week, the 20-time champions of England were crowned the richest club in the world in Deloitte's Football Money League, breaking Real Madrid's spell of 11 consecutive seasons at the top.

It is the first time since the 2003-04 season that United can call themselves the richest club in the world, a feat made even more impressive by the fact they have finished fifth in the Premier League, while the Spanish giants lifted the Champions League in May.

United's revenue stood at £515.3m for the 2015-16 season, the highest ever recorded by any football club, after increasing exponentially across all the three categories – broadcast, matchday and commercial.

The latter is what truly separates United from their rivals, particularly on the domestic front.

"There are different factors behind United's financial success," Dan Jones, head of Deloitte's Sports Business Group, told IBTimes UK.

"United are a fully globalised brand, and they do not just rely on headline sponsors, such as Adidas and Chevrolet, but they have wide range of commercial partners spanning across different industries, with commercial partners across the world."

United have 70 affiliated partners – the club divide their sponsors into global and regional partners and also have media and financial partners – across the world.

The 25 global partners cover a range of products, from lubricant oils to pillows and wine, from foreign currency exchange and crisps to tractors. Meanwhile the financial partners cover the four corners of the globe, from Uganda to South Korea and from Serbia to Mexico.

In the summer of 2015, United signed a new commercial deal with Adidas, worth £750m over the next decade, as the German company replaced Nike as the club's kit manufacturer. The agreement dwarfed the previous deal, which was worth £305m over 13 years. To put things into perspective, in the first 11 months of last year, Adidas' contribution to United's finances was £41m greater than the amount generated by the club in retail income for the whole of 2015.

Crucially, United have the freedom to negotiate deals with other clothing firms, provided the items only carry the club badge. Earlier this month, United unveiled a partnership with Uber, which will allow fans to utilise designated pick-up and drop-off points around Old Trafford.

Commercially, their closest challengers are Bayern Munich, who made £256.2m, while Paris St-Germain and Barcelona were the only other clubs to generate over £200m in commercial revenue. United's commercial power is such that in the 2015-16 season, taking in the marketing department's revenue solely (if it was a football club), it would still rank ninth in Deloitte's list, having generated more individually than Atletico Madrid, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund.

Old Trafford
United are reportedly considering increasing Old Trafford's capacity to 88,000. Getty images

Rod Kohler, director of marketing agency Revolution Sports, explains United's commercial pull should not be taken for granted either.

"Regardless of how big a club, team or event you are, securing a lucrative sponsorship deal is never easy," he tells IBTimes UK.

"The sponsorship landscape has changed considerably over the last ten years, with many companies from so-called developing nations, becoming increasingly prolific. This has increased the size of the sponsorship pool, but clubs will often have to travel the world to find the deals."

While commercial operations have developed into the main driver of growth, United's matchday revenue grew 20% last season, an increase second only to that of Real Madrid, Chelsea, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04.

On Wednesday (25 January), rumours surfaced that United were "seriously considering" expanding Old Trafford's capacity by over 12,000 to 88,000, which would make it the second biggest club stadium in Europe, behind Nou Camp in Barcelona.

Only 24 hours earlier, the club had confirmed that the capacity will be reduced to 73,300 by 2020 from current 75,635, to accommodate an extra 300 disabled fans.

"Their matchday revenue remains extremely important and the fact they have the biggest stadium in the Premier League and one of the biggest in Europe gives them a clear advantage on other clubs," Jones adds.

Last season, United recorded a 27% increase in broadcasting revenue, which could be set to soar even further, given the record £5.14bn deal for domestic Premier League TV rights kicked in at the start of the current campaign.

The deal could also be pivotal to attract more sponsors.

"The Premiership has the highest TV figures and this element will always interest sponsors," says Kohler.

"However, there is still a struggle amongst the clubs within the lower echelons of the Premiership, so being a Premiership club does not automatically media high profile sponsors follow."

Success on the pitch remains crucial

However, for all their gravitas off the pitch, and the 659 million fans their managing director Richard Arnold regularly brags about, United would not be anywhere as attractive from a commercial point of view without success on the pitch.

"The more successful on the pitch, the more chances to be successful off it, as success on the pitch attracts sponsors," explains Jones.

"Likewise, richer clubs can finance expensive signings, therefore the two are very closely linked. If they were doing better on the pitch this year, by reaching the Champions League for example, they would see better financial benefits in terms of revenue."

But since Sir Alex Ferguson's departure at the end of the 2012-13 season, United have only won one FA Cup and went two whole seasons without any sort of silverware. By comparison, Barcelona and Real Madrid, which were ranked second and third in Deloitte's report, have won two league titles and two Champions League respectively over the same period.

United's return to the top was helped by them making the Champions League last season after a year out of European football's elite competition, last season's fifth place finish means they will again miss out on revenue which the tournament generates.

"They'll face strong competition from Barcelona and Real Madrid to retain the top spot in next year's edition, due to the lack of Champions League football, the weakening of the pound against the euro," says Jones.

Furthermore, over the longer term, other clubs could enter the commercial market demanding similar deals and using United as the precedent, with football's already astonishing wealth set to increase even further.

"Growth revenue in football has still got plenty to go," Jones adds.

"Barcelona want to become the first club in the world to break the €1bn revenue barrier in a year. While that is not going to happen immediately, it can definitely happen."