Top 30 clubs in European football are accounting for nearly 50% ($11.3 billion) revenue in the gross ($22.89 billion) earnings of the 710 top-tier clubs. The figures are revealed in the latest UEFA report – European Club Footballing Landscape.
“The Club Licensing Benchmarking Report for Financial Year 2017” further reveals that “over the past ten years, English Premier League clubs have extended their revenue advantage, growing on average by €144 million ($ 164 million) per club,” the report said.
The report further reveals that Stadium attendance levels in Europe are on the rise, with 2017/18 crowd figures up 6.4% relative to 2016/17. The aggregate European league attendance figures have exceeded 100 million in 2017-18. The benchmark was achieved for the only other time in 2013-14. Almost half of all top divisions (25) have recorded a rise in ticket sales, with the biggest increases coming in Turkey, Italy, England and Germany.
The two leading manufacturers, Nike and adidas, have a combined market share of over a third (34%) in the European market.
The tenth edition also analyses the major trends of the past ten years, UEFA has stated.
The resulting report provides the most comprehensive and transparent overview of the state of the European football finance ever published. Both the 2017 data and the detailed ten-year trends paint a positive picture. For the first time, the 700 top-division clubs together generated a ‘bottom-line’ profit figure in the 2017 financial year. These bottom-line profits of €615 million ($ 700 million) – profits after transfer, non-operating, financing, tax and divestment – reflect six consecutive years of improvement since the introduction of financial fair play.
Looking back over the last ten years, the report presents a clear narrative of two distinct parts, the post-recession and pre-regulation years 2008-2011, and the period since 2012 when UEFA financial regulations and, subsequently, a number of domestic financial regulations were introduced. Spiralling club costs, mainly wages, sent club losses crashing from €600 million ($ 682 million) in 2008 to €1,700 million ($ 1,933 million) in 2011. However, losses have been cut every year since the introduction of financial fair play, and finally turned into net profits in 2017.
The report highlights a cultural change in European football finance over the past decade, with football regulation, led by UEFA and supported by national associations; a stable media landscape; supporter loyalty; and a club-wide focus on managing costs allowing European football to end these ten years far stronger than when it started.
Key findings of the report:
Other key findings in the report include:
• Top-division club revenues have increased by 77% from €11.4 billion ($12.96 billion) in 2008 to €20.1 billion ($ 22.86 billion) in 2017.
• For the fourth year out of the last five years, European club revenues grew at a faster rate than club wages, with revenue at 8.9% and wages growing at 6.7%.
• Because of this better wage control, clubs were able to report the highest operating profits in history of €1.4 billion ($ 1.59 billion) in 2017. Europe’s clubs have now generated more than €4 billion ($ 4.55 billion) in operating profits in the last five years, fuelling the recent increased transfer spending.
• Net debt continues to fall, from 65% of revenue before the introduction of financial fair play in 2011 to 40% in 2015, and down to 34% in 2017.
• The first year of the current Premier League TV rights cycle further separated English clubs from their rivals, with reported revenue increasing by 47% in domestic currency and 28% in euro currency terms. Indeed, only FC Barcelona, Juventus FC and Real Madrid CF received more TV money than the 20th Premier League club.
• Transfer spending has increased by 95% in just three years, with prices almost doubling in all three price ranges (top, middle and lower-value deals).
• Gambling and betting firms are now the most common source of shirt sponsorship in ten European leagues.
• More people are watching European football than ever before. 2017-18 recorded the highest total European attendance level on record, with attendances of 105 million marginally outperforming the level reached in 2011-12. A record 15 clubs had aggregate league match attendances of over 1 million.
• UEFA prize money has become more important as a source of revenue, especially in less wealthy leagues: UEFA revenue to clubs has risen by 228% in the last ten years, compared with an overall growth in revenue of 77% and a growth in broadcast revenue of 113%.
• Over the past decade, 46 foreign investors of 22 different nationalities have become ultimate controlling parties of European top-division clubs.
As such, the report details that 2017 saw the highest revenue increase in history, with more than €1.6 billion ($ 1.82 billion) revenue added. In addition, a record number of 28 leagues reported profits in 2017 compared to just nine leagues in 2011, prior to the introduction of financial fair play.
The report also shows that over the past ten years, the top 12 ‘global’ clubs’ share of European club sponsor and commercial revenues has almost doubled from 22% to 39% as they added €1.6 billion ($1.82 billion) in commercial and sponsorship revenues. In comparison, the other 700 European top-division clubs, from large, medium and small revenue leagues, were able to add less than €1 billion ($ 1.15 billion). While the report notes the polarisation at the very top paused in 2017, with the 11th to 20th clubs enjoying more revenue growth than the top 10, it is an issue that UEFA continues to monitor closely.
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