DFL counts cost of COVID-19 for German football

The German Football League (DFL) has said that COVID-19 has cost the domestic professional game more than €1bn (£843.2m/$1.1bn) in lost revenue as it prepares to welcome back full capacity stadia for the first time in months this weekend.

The DFL has today (Friday) issued its 2022 Economic Report, which stated that total revenue across the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga fell to €4.05bn in the 2020-21 season.

Compared with the last pre-pandemic season, 2018-19, the annual total revenue of the two leagues has fallen by more than €750m – from €4.8bn. The last time the revenue of the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga was lower was in the 2016-17 season (€4.01bn).

As most matches were played behind closed doors, match revenue alone – which mainly comprises ticket sales – fell by around 95% compared with the last pre-pandemic season: from roughly €650m in 2018-19 to only €35.5m last season.

In last year’s report, the 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.

Stands have had to remain largely empty in the first two thirds of the 2021-22 season, with this weekend representing the first opportunity in some time that stadia will be able to be utilised at their full capacity across Germany as COVID-19 restrictions are scrapped.

The DFL has said that it has lost €752m in revenue during 2020-21, adding to a further €274m it missed out on in 2019-20. It said the impact of matches played behind closed doors is also evident in the number of people directly and indirectly employed in the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, which has temporarily fallen by around 50% to 26,183, versus the 2019-20 figure of 52,786.

The number of indirect employees, who usually work mainly in the stadium on matchdays, in security or catering, for example, decreased by around 80% alone.

DFL chief executive, Donata Hopfen, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has already left a deep mark. As we publish this economic report, we already know that the stands had to remain largely empty in the first two thirds of the 2021-22 season.

“As well as damaging the atmosphere in the stadium and on screen, this is posing a huge financial burden for the clubs. In addition, the perspective regarding the media markets is uncertain. The coronavirus pandemic represents an unprecedented turning point not only for football but also for many areas of our lives.

“Nevertheless, every turning point also offers considerable opportunities – and the clubs and the DFL must work together to seize them: by questioning traditional thinking, boldly addressing new areas, trying out new things with a flexible and agile mindset, and increasingly focusing on the interests of fans. All while upholding our values and traditions.

“I firmly believe that this is the only way to successfully maintain and expand the popularity and appeal of the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga in spite of all the challenges facing us while also safeguarding the economic prosperity and stability of the leagues.”

The full report can be read here.

Image: 3DVisu on Unsplash