Manchester United stay top of Uefa wealth league as TV deals empower English clubs
Manchester United are the wealthiest club in European soccer, while television rights deals for the present cycle have enabled England’s Premier League to pull further ahead of its rivals in terms of revenue generation, according to a new study from Uefa.
The 10th edition of the European Club Footballing Landscape, based on financial figures in 2017, found that United had projected revenue of €676 million ($771 million), down €12 million on the previous year, but just ahead of Spanish giants Real Madrid on €675 million.
The English club headed of the list despite not having not won their domestic league since 2012-13, and having been ever present in the Uefa Champions League in that time.
The top 10 is rounded out by Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Juventus, all with turnover of more than €400 million.
The Premier League accounts for 13 of the 30 richest clubs, fuelled by domestic and international rights deals that raised more than €8 billion for the three years to the end of this season.
That goes a long way to explaining the overall turnover of €5.3 billion for the 20 Premier League clubs, well ahead of LaLiga (€2.9 billion), the Bundesliga (€2.8 billion), Serie A (€2.2 billion) and Ligue 1 (€1.6 billion).
Uefa noted that in the first year of the rights cycle, English clubs accelerated ahead of their foreign rivals off the pitch, with reported revenue increasing by 47 per cent in domestic currency and 28 per cent in euro currency terms.
Only Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid received more TV money than the club that finished last in the Premier League.
Analysing the figures over a 10-year period, Uefa found that European top division club revenues increased by 77 per cent, from €11.4 billion in 2008 to €20.1 billion in 2017, and that, for the fourth year in five, revenues grew at a faster rate than wages, at 8.9 per cent, as against 6.7 per cent.
This enabled clubs to record operating profits of €1.4 billion in 2017, and €5 billion for the five-year period, which financed increased player transfer spending, up 95 per cent over three years.
Other findings included a further fall in net debt, to 34 per cent of revenue in 2017, down from 65 per cent before the introduction of Uefa’s financial fair play rules in 2011, and from 40 per cent in 2015.
On the sponsorship side, it was noted that gambling and betting firms are now the most common source of shirt deals in 10 European leagues, notably in the Premier League where nine of the 20 clubs are with such companies.
Despite significant increases in ticket prices in some major markets in the last decade, Uefa reported record attendance of 105 million for the 2017-18 season, up marginally on the previous high recorded in 2011-12, with 15 clubs recording aggregate attendances of over 1 million.
The Bundesliga (44,511) had the highest average attendance, ahead of the Premier League (38,310), LaLiga (27,068), Serie A (24,706) and Ligue 1 (22,548).
In the foreword to the study, Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin said: “This report showcases the many successes of European football. It shows that the positive revenue, investment and profitability trends identified in last year’s report are continuing. The underlying health of European club football is highlighted, with the 700 top division clubs together generating the first bottom-line profit in history.
“Is it therefore any wonder that interest in European football is radiating outwards across the globe as demonstrated by the many millions of social media activations and by the numerous club acquisitions from foreign investors.”
However, he did note the widening financial gap between Europe’s elite clubs and the less wealthy majority, saying “it is therefore more essential than ever that all stakeholders work together to keep football strong up and down the pyramid,” and that Uefa would seek to ensure that “every one of the 55 member associations can exploit its full potential.”