Musical Chairs at the Top of the Richest Leagues Table

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Bundesliga on the rise in the football revenue race

Real Madrid beat Man United to club revenue top spot

by Andy Roberts

In the latest report on the world’s richest football leagues, compiled by Deloitte for SportBusiness, the German Bundesliga has leapfrogged Spain’s LaLiga to take second place.

While the English Premier League maintains top spot with total revenues of £5.44bn, the Bundesliga took a big step forward with £3.16bn, giving it second spot, overtaking LaLiga with £3.07bn. In total, the European football club market is now worth £25.1bn.

The 28th Annual Review of Football Finance showed that total revenues for the big five European leagues increased revenue by six percent for the 2017-18 season. 

Real on Top

Although the report generated few surprises, other than Real Madrid knocking Manchester United from its perch as the most valuable football club in the world (€3.22bn compared to €3.21bn), there are some interesting disparities revealed in the numbers. For example, the total revenues for the three tiers of the English Football League were only £360 Million, less than a tenth of those of the Premiership.

This shows the challenge faces by clubs being promoted to the Premier League, which continues to dominate thanks to the revenues it gains from the sale of broadcast rights to BT, Sky and Amazon, which no other major football league can come close to. 

FFP enhancing revenues

The report also makes clear that UEFA financial fair play rules are actually enhancing the revenues of the big-name clubs and making them more sustainable in the long term, with less scope for blowing the budget and over-burdening the club with debt, as we saw with Leeds United in the early 2010s.

Overall, the average club wage bill rose to a staggering 59% of overall revenues, largely driven again by record transfers and new contracts awarded in the Premier League. Payback for this investment is a record payout to clubs in the UEFA Champions League, with payments rising by £75mn to UK clubs alone in the 2017-18 season.

More revenue diversification in prospect

Despite the 8% rise in their broadcast income for the 2019-22 period, UK clubs will be looking to diversify their revenue base as the media landscape become more fragmented and regulators continue to push for a more open market for sports rights. We can therefore expect to see increased investment in stadia, marketing and off-pitch activities over the next three years.

Overall, the picture is a rosy one, with football riding high in an uncertain global economic climate. Interest in the domestic leagues, Euro competitions and international tournaments continues to grow, with clubs benefiting from the loyalty of their fans. The challenge, as ever, will be to maintain financial growth while keeping the game open and accessible to grassroots supporters.