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Europe’s top clubs facing €3.6bn income fall from COVID-19

The European Club Association (ECA) has said football teams from the continent’s 10 leading leagues can expect a revenue hit of €3.6bn (£3.24bn/$4.06bn) from COVID-19’s impact on their 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

The ECA, which has a membership of 246 clubs in Europe, conducted its research from a representative sample covering the English Premier League, German Bundesliga, Spanish LaLiga, Italian Serie A, French Ligue 1, Turkish Super Lig, Dutch Eredivisie, Portuguese Primeira Liga, Scottish Premiership and Polish Ekstraklasa.

ECA chief executive Charlie Marshall said the findings represent a “seismic shock” to the football industry, highlighting that they come despite seven of the 10 leagues being able to resume last month.

The ECA said clubs are expected to take a €1.5bn hit in 2019-20, with this rising to €2.1bn next season. Total club revenue, excluding transfer activity, is projected at €18.1bn with COVID-19 in 2019-20, as opposed to €19.6bn without. For 2020-21, these figures are €18.4bn and €20.5bn, respectively.

The ECA notes direct matchday revenue will be affected most, falling from €2.9bn to €2.5bn in 2019-20, and €3bn to €1.9bn for the entire 2020-21 season. Marshall said: “Now is the time to build common and widespread understanding across all stakeholders of the economic drivers and pressure points of football clubs, so that in working together on recovery we can also take the opportunity to build more sustainability.

“This is imperative as we are still living with COVID-19 and, if nothing else, we have learned that being flexible and prepared for unpredictability is part of our future.

“Clubs and those that represent them must continue to develop mitigating measures (cost, regulatory) and to adapt them over time to maintain economic balance and ensure viability. Managing cost and cash will be key until revenues have stabilised once more.

“The upcoming transfer market will give us the next indication of economic motivation and the state of football’s health, but time should also be taken now to examine more fundamental operating cost structures – for example, costs of enterprise, people, systems and technologies, stadium.

“Cost-cutting is always a delicate exercise – care is needed to avoid long term reversal of many aspects of professionalisation that have been built up in football clubs over the past decade or more. The financial impact does not stop when the game resumes. Rather, it will continue into the next season and we must take measures to create a more sustainable football industry in the long run.”

Image: ECA