Professional services firm KPMG has released a new study on the impact of COVID-19 on match-day revenue in Europe’s top football leagues, with around €500m (£428m/$588m) lost at the end of the 2019-20 season alone as the pandemic forced matches behind closed doors.

All major European leagues suspended their 2019-20 seasons in March last year as the pandemic took hold, with all but France’s Ligue 1 restarting at a later date. Fans were not permitted when the leagues eventually resumed their seasons months later.

KPMG’s Football Benchmark tool has found that, in the big five leagues, the number of home games with spectators in the 2019-20 season declined by 27% on aggregate compared to the 2018-19 campaign.

This drop-off in attendance directly contributed to the €500m decrease in match-day revenue, which totalled €1.9bn in 2019-20. KPMG found that the German Bundesliga was the most affected and lost €157m year-on-year, while Ligue 1 lost the least in absolute terms (€48m) due to its comparatively small average attendances.

According to KPMG Football Benchmark, the English Premier League lost €102m year-on-year, with Spain’s LaLiga and Italy’s Serie A losing €101m and €79m, respectively.

KPMG noted that stadium attendance in the Premier League, LaLiga and Serie A had been growing in the 2019-20 campaign, with the latter two posting respective increases of 9% and 8% before the season was halted.

The report found that LaLiga club Barcelona suffered the biggest loss across the top five leagues with a €39m drop in its match-day revenues. Real Madrid followed with a loss of €35m, while Schalke 04, which has since been relegated to the second tier of German football, suffered a loss of €26m.

Europe’s top five leagues played the 2020-21 season behind closed doors, with only a limited number of fans attending a small selection of games in the Premier League, LaLiga and Bundesliga. With this in mind, clubs are expected to make little to no income from match-day revenue in 2020-21, with KPMG forecasting that they could lose out on combined revenues of over €2bn.

The 2021-22 season got underway earlier this month, with the Premier League and Ligue 1 allowing matches to go ahead without any restrictions on fan attendance, although local authorities in France will have the power to impose restrictions.

A 40% capacity limit has been set in LaLiga, while in Germany a 50% cap has been imposed, with a maximum of 25,000 spectators permitted. A 50% cap is also in place in Serie A, with a COVID-19 passport required for entry.

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