European football revenue rose 10% in the 2020-21 season despite an almost complete lack of fans in stadiums, according to a report on Thursday.
It’s been a season like no other with the COVID-19 pandemic cutting virtually all matchday revenue, but Deloitte’s annual football funding review showed the industry has held up through the continent with total revenues of 27.6 billion euros.
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The so-called big five leagues of England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France saw a combined 3% increase in revenue, with Italy’s Serie A up 23% to 2.5 billion euros and the English Premier League up 8% to 5.5 billion euros.
Deferred broadcast revenue from the previous season, 48% in the case of Serie A, and the success of the postponed Euro 2020 tournament played across the continent in 2021, were behind the rise in revenue Europeans, according to the report.
“Clubs across Europe played a significant proportion of matches behind closed doors or with reduced capacity during the 2020/21 season, which resulted in an almost complete loss of matchday revenue,” Tim said. Bridge, senior partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.
“It is a testament to the resilience of the industry, the value generated from broadcast deals and the success of the Euros that the European football market has seen tenacious growth, in terms of revenue, over the past the last year.”
Behind the impressive numbers, however, the picture was not rosy everywhere.
The German Bundesliga saw combined revenue down 6% to €3 billion, while the Spanish La Liga also contracted 6%.
Of the big five leagues, only the Premier League saw an increase in aggregate club operating profits from £49m to £479m.
Although the combined net debt of the English top flight has only increased by 4% to £4.1bn in 2020-21, second-tier Championship debt has increased by 32%, with wage costs exceeding revenues for the fourth consecutive year.
“It’s important not to overlook the deficit position of many clubs,” said Bridge.
“The strides made to strengthen financial sustainability through new UEFA regulations and to professionalise women’s football will challenge clubs to break with tradition, which could increase profitability in a notoriously loss-making industry and create an environment more inclusive for everyone. It’s an exciting time, but one to prepare for.”
While only four Premier League clubs have reported a pre-tax profit in 2020-21, it remains well placed to maintain its position as Europe’s strongest league, with Deloitte expecting revenue to exceed £6bn this season.
“As the Premier League enters its fourth decade, it is further ahead of the competition than ever, having emerged from the pandemic without as large a rise in net debt as many might have expected,” said Bridge. .
“The stark reality, however, is that the league last broke even at a pre-tax level in the 2017/18 season, underscoring the critical need for strong governance and financial planning in coming years.”