Premier League leads European football to £25bn valuation

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The big five European leagues generated a record €15.6bn (£13.8bn) in revenue in 2017-18, a 6% annual increase, according to new figures from Deloitte.

It says the European football market is now worth some €28.4bn (£25.1bn).

The English Premier League was the market leader, with record revenues of £4.8bn, as five teams competed in the Champions League for the first time.

Germany’s Bundesliga overtook Spain’s La Liga to become the second-largest revenue generating league in the world.

Deloitte said during the 2017-18 season, European club football was in the “strongest financial position that we’ve ever seen”.

“This reflects the drive among leading clubs to generate ever greater revenues to fund success on the pitch and also the sustained efforts of UEFA to improve profitability and sustainability of clubs through Financial Fair Play and club licensing,” said Dan Jones, partner and head of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.

‘Competitive nature’

With a quintet of English teams competing in the Champions League in 2017-18, and all reaching round 16 or beyond, Uefa payouts to clubs increased by about £71m.

Alongside the increase in European cash, match-day and commercial revenue also both grew at Premier League clubs – by 8% and 12% respectively.

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Premier League clubs have been battling to stay in the division

However, following record operating profits in 2016-17, increased spending on player wages contributed to reduced operating profits. They fell by 16% to £867m, still the second highest level of profitability to date.

“This wage spending is an indication of the competitive nature of the division, with the top clubs competing for financially lucrative places in Uefa competitions, and clubs lower down the division fighting to remain in the Premier League itself,” said Mr Jones.

“With the sale of the Premier League’s domestic and international broadcast rights now complete for the 2019-20 to 2021-22 seasons, resulting in an overall 8% revenue increase, Premier League clubs will receive further increases in central distributions in the coming seasons.

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The increase in Premier League TV rights is not as dramatic as in previous years

“However, the increase is not as significant as in the previous two cycles and therefore clubs will aim to improve their competitive and financial position through developing and growing other commercial revenue.”

He said that while the Premier League had retained its leading position financially, other leagues would continue to grow in coming years.

In the second-tier English Championship, record wage levels have led to record operating losses.

Wages outstripped revenues, highlighting the financial risks that Championship clubs are willing to take in order to gain promotion to the Premier League. However, net debt among Championship clubs almost halved over the course of the season.

Tax contribution

Other findings regarding English football finances in 2017-18 include:

  • The top 92 Premier League and Football League clubs generated a record £5.8bn in revenue
  • Championship clubs generated record combined revenues of £749m, a 4% increase on 2016-17
  • The 92 Premier League and Football League clubs contributed £2.1bn in taxes (2016-17: £1.9bn)
  • Premier League clubs’ wages-to-revenue ratio rose to 59%
  • Championship clubs’ wages-to-revenue ratio increased to 106%

Scottish broadcast deals

Meanwhile, Scottish revenues increased to £206m in 2017-18, driven by match-day revenue growth of 19%.

The Premiership saw its highest average attendances since 2006-07, aided by the return of Hibernian to the top flight.

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Hibs (yellow) have helped to boost Scottish attendances

Following the termination of the SPFL’s international media rights agreement with broadcast agency MP & Silva, replacement deals were signed. Those agreements with beIN Sports and other broadcasters made the league available to view in 119 territories for two seasons from 2018-19.

In addition, Deloitte says an exclusive five-year domestic broadcast rights deal with Sky Sports should deliver a 20% increase on the current deal from season 2020-21.

Outside the UK, the commencement of the German Bundesliga’s new broadcast arrangements saw it leapfrog La Liga to become number two in terms of revenue generation.

The Bundesliga also remains the best-attended European league, with average crowds of more than 43,000.

Italy’s Serie A remains some way behind the German and Spanish leagues in terms of revenues, with France’s Ligue 1 remaining the smallest of the Big Five leagues.

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