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Return of fans fuels further revenue rise for European football leagues

Featured image credit: Antonia on Unsplash

Featured image credit: Antonia on Unsplash

Deloitte’s latest Annual Review of Football has revealed that European football market revenues rose by 7% to €29.5bn (£25.3bn/$32.2bn) in the 2021-22 season, with the figures boosted by the return of fans following COVID-19 restrictions in 2020-21.

Revenue in the ‘big five’ European leagues – Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 – grew by 10% to €17.2bn, outperforming the pre-pandemic benchmark of €17bn posted in 2018-19.

Revenue growth in the English Premier League continued to outpace that of the other ‘big five’ leagues as clubs reported a 12% rise in overall revenues in the 2021-22 season to a record aggregate revenue of £5.5bn.

This was largely driven by record matchday revenue, which increased to £763m, surpassing pre-pandemic levels of £684m posted in 2018-19.

LaLiga revenues remain at approximately half that of the Premier League, despite Spanish clubs’ total revenue increasing by 11% to €3.3bn in 2021-22. Top-tier clubs in Spain generated matchday revenues of €409m in 2021-22, a €353m increase on the prior season.

In the German Bundesliga, clubs’ revenue grew by 5% to €3.1bn in 2021-22 as a result of matchday revenue increases of €254m and commercial revenue increases of €169m. Italy’s Serie A was the only ‘big five’ league to record a decrease in aggregate revenues in 2021-22 as total revenue fell by 7% to €2.4bn.

Clubs in France’s Ligue 1 experienced the greatest percentage growth in aggregate revenues out of the ‘big five’ leagues in 2021-22, increasing by 26% to a record high of €2bn, predominantly driven by new commercial deals and a post-pandemic uplift to matchday revenues.

This year’s review also marks the first time that aggregate revenues for England’s Women’s Super League clubs have been reported in a formal way. Analysis from Deloitte found that WSL clubs generated £32m in aggregate revenue in the 2021-22 season, up from £20m in the previous season.

Combined revenue for clubs across the English Football League was more than £1bn in 2021-22, with Championship clubs recording a total revenue of £676m, a 13% increase on the previous season.

Tim Bridge, lead partner in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, said: “Topline figures show that European football has emerged resiliently from its most challenging period to date. Following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, fans’ pent-up demand gave rise to record matchday and commercial revenues across Europe. However, with operating profits declining by €1.8bn since 2018-19, it’s clear that overall recovery is still a work in progress.”

Bridge added: “The focus for all clubs must now shift to ensure long-term financial sustainability across the football system, and the introduction of new regulations across European football are appropriately timed to support this.

“Record growth in the Premier League continues to increase revenue polarisation between and within European football leagues, and every league faces new challenges brought by increased competition, regulation and the strain of a challenging macroeconomic climate.”

European football market revenues stood at €27.6bn during the 2020-21 season, an increase of 10% on 2019-20, despite the vast majority of matches played behind closed doors.