By Jonathan Copping, Sports Lawyer, Bolt Burdon Law Firm, London, United Kingdom
Professional Services Firm, Deloitte’s, released its annual review of football finance last week.
This widely-hailed annual review focuses on recent financial developments within the football industry and the most recent edition assesses the 2015/16 season.
Some of its key findings are as follows:
Increased revenue in the ‘big five’ European leagues
The combined revenue of the top divisions in each of Spain, England, Germany, Italy and France grew to €13.4 billion in 2015/16 – an increase of €1.4 billion from 2014/15. The same divisions accounted for a 54% market share of the European football industry, reflective of popularity of the teams competing in those divisions.
Within the ‘big five’ European leagues, the English Premier League led the way with a combined revenue of €4.86 billion. Out of that figure, a staggering €2.57 billion equated to broadcasting rights, evidencing the global appeal of the Premier League. By contrast, the broadcasting rights of the French Ligue 1 totaled €656 million.
The average revenue of the 20 teams competing in the Premier League in 2015/16 was €243 million, with an average attendance of 36,490. The teams in the second wealthiest league, Germany’s Bundesliga, had an average income of €151 million; however, the average attendance was higher at 42,420. That can be explained, in part, by the disparity between the ticket prices in the Premier League and the Bundesliga, as well as the amount of broadcasting revenue allocated to each club.
Wages in the ‘big five’ European leagues
Unsurprisingly, the clubs in the English Premier League spent far in excess of the participants in any of the other ‘big five’ leagues on wages. In 2015/16, the 20 Premier League clubs spent €3.047 billion on wages – an increase of €377 million from 2014/15. Interestingly, the Premier League clubs’ combined wage costs were more than double the combined wages of Spain’s La Liga, the second highest spender on wages.
Of particular note, Paris Saint-Germain’s total wage bill of €292 million accounted for 30% of France’s Ligue 1’s wage expenditure.
Profitability in the ‘big five’ European leagues
Spain’s La Liga saw the biggest increase in combined operating profit, jumping from €260 million in 2014/15 to €397 million in 2015/16. This is down, in part, to the new collective selling of broadcasting rights and the more even distribution of revenues from the sale of those rights.
Only France’s Ligue 1 and Italy’s Serie A recorded combined operating losses, although it should be noted that the combined operating losses in Serie A reduced by €95 million to €39 million. The recent influx of foreign investment into Serie A clubs and the consequent increased spending on players may see the combined losses increase for 2016/17.
Other European Leagues
The stark financial contrast between the ‘big five’ leagues and the other European leagues is evident from the annual review. The average revenue of the 18 clubs in the Eredivise in The Netherlands for the 2015/16 season was €27 million. Traditional European heritage clubs, Ajax, Feyenoord and PSV Eindhoven, will, no doubt, contribute to increasing the average revenue. The Eredivise’s clubs’ combined revenue was €478 million, of which only €76 million (16%) came from broadcasting revenues. Other top divisions in Europe also saw broadcasting rights contribute a much smaller percentage of the total revenues. 21% of total revenue in Scotland’s Premiership came from broadcasting and only 16% in Austria’s Bundesliga.
Irrespective of the financial ups and downs in the various European Leagues, football continues to be a money spinner for clubs and players alike!
Jonathan Copping can be contacted by e-mail at ‘JonathanCopping@boltburdon.co.uk’