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NFL hit by $4bn revenue reduction

The National Football League (NFL) has taken a near $4bn (£2.87bn/€3.3bn) revenue hit from the staging of its 2020 season during COVID-19.

Citing sources familiar with the League’s finances, Sports Business Journal said revenues declined by around 25% year-on-year from 2019’s figure of $16bn. Revenues for 2020 were projected to be $16.5bn, but instead came in at around $12bn.

While the NFL was able to complete its 2020 season on schedule, game attendance was hit by COVID-19 restrictions in the teams’ home states, with some franchises being forced behind closed doors for the whole campaign and others operating with restricted capacities.

Raymond James Stadium was the setting for the season finale as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers created history, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9 to become the first team to win the Super Bowl at their home stadium. While the National Football League (NFL) initially announced that it was planning for 22,000 fans to be in attendance at Super Bowl LV, including around 7,500 vaccinated health care workers, the final attendance on February 7 stood at 24,835.

Overall, around 1.2 million people attended an NFL game in 2020, compared to the League’s typical annual figure of about 17 million, according to The reduction of revenue has resulted in the NFL setting the 2021 salary cap at $182.5m per team, down some 8% from the record $198.2m for 2020.

Earlier this week, another major sports league, the Bundesliga, spelled out the impact of the pandemic on its finances. The German Football League (DFL) revealed that the revenue of clubs in the top-tier Bundesliga dropped by around 5.4% during the 2019-20 season.

The DFL was forced to suspend the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga seasons in March 2020 as the pandemic took hold, meaning that the final nine match days were held behind closed doors. As a result, ticket sales in the Bundesliga alone fell by 30% to €363.5m (£312m/$432m). The 18 Bundesliga clubs generated total revenue of €3.8bn during the 2019-20 season, a 5.4% drop on the previous year.

Image: U.S. Air Force