Pandemic Still Impacting European Champion Club Finances

After two seasons, the coronavirus pandemic is still disrupting the financial performances of the champions of Europe’s eight prominent leagues, according to the 6th edition of KPMG Football Benchmark’s “The European Champions Report”.



With total revenues of most clubs still below their pre-pandemic levels in an industry characterised by a predominantly rigid cost structure, most champions recorded massive losses for the financial year which ended in May/June 2021.


While there were notable exceptions, the most common trend seen was that operating revenues – hit hard by a nearly complete loss of matchday income, but mitigated by stable or increasing broadcasting and commercial revenues, at least when compared with the previous football season – could not make up for generally high staff costs and decreasing player trading income.


Read the full report here


Importantly, those revenue growth figures were mostly related to broadcasting income impacted by the delayed payments for matches postponed in the previous, 2019/20 season.


The composition of the eight champions is another sign of the disruption as, in contrast to previous years, only one champion retained their domestic title: Bayern München winning their 31st Bundesliga trophy.


The report, which drew a number of key conclusions, found that Manchester City were the only champions to register not only annual growth in total operating revenues, but also to surpass their total income of the last pre-COVID-19 season of 2018/19.


Their total income of EUR 644m was the highest among the champions, and ten times more than that of Turkey’s Beşiktaş or Portugal’s Sporting CP. Furthermore, they have also been able to leapfrog city rivals Manchester United (who saw EUR 557m) for the first time.


Clubs that could rely on delayed broadcasting payments, both in relation to postponed domestic and international matches from the previous season, and who could progress further on the continental scene, were even able to increase their total income.


Manchester City, who benefited from reaching the UEFA Champions League final for the first time in their history, eventually losing to Chelsea FC, collected EUR 96m more in total revenues than a year before, a 17% growth rate year on year; while Inter Milan’s operating income grew by 19% (EUR 55m) in a year. The clubs with the biggest decrease in total operating revenues were Ajax (-EUR 37m, a 23% drop), and Beşiktaş (-EUR15m, -21%).


Matchday revenues were wiped out almost completely for all of these champions clubs. Despite some domestic regulations allowing for limited capacity in stadia in the beginning or at the end of the season, matchday income was near nil for most clubs. By comparison, the same eight clubs collected an aggregate EUR 359m in matchday income in 2018/19, the latest season before COVID-19.


With the exception of Beşiktaş, all the champion clubs increased their income from commercial activities. This is partly due to the incremental impact of the delayed payments related to the postponed matches of the previous season, and also to some new deals.


“The disruption the COVID-19 pandemic caused in football is clearly demonstrated by the massive losses – an aggregate net loss of almost half a billion euros – registered by the eight champions of the most prominent European leagues taken into account in our analysis,” observed Andrea Sartori, KPMG’s Global Head of Sports.


“While the reopening of stadia and some major commercial deals signed recently may provide some optimism for the current and future seasons, the pandemic only magnified the financial sustainability issues and fragility of the football ecosystem on the whole.


“That distress also led to last year’s European Super League initiative – while the plan was soon aborted, the concerns it exposed are still on the table, including much needed reforms regarding competition calendars, cost control measures, alterations to the economics and governance of domestic and European competitions or in the transfer system, among others.”





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