The business of football – How Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues compare to each other
As European football continues to heat up, now is a good time to reflect on the business and financial trends of Europe’s top five leagues in the 2020/21 season and what the future holds for these leagues. Below, we take a look at how Europe’s top leagues compare in terms of finances, as calculated in Deloitte’s annual Football Finance Report 2022. For this report, Deloitte has considered the 2020/21 football season. European.
The 2022/23 season of the European football season is underway. Of Europe’s top five football leagues – Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A – the EPL, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga were the first to get into the thick of things when they launched on 6 august. A week later, football started rolling in Serie A and La Liga.
It’s still early days, but the first two weeks of action in the Premier League, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga have followed a familiar and expected pattern. Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Bayern Munich find themselves at the top of the Premier League, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga respectively by winning their first two matches. In Serie A and La Liga, last season’s winners AC Milan and Real Madrid won their season openers.
With Manchester City, PSG, Bayern, Real Madrid and AC Milan the favorites to win their respective domestic leagues, a lot can still unfold over the next nine months given that this football season European will be unlike any season seen in the past. This would be because football leagues across Europe will come to a halt as some players travel to Qatar for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which is scheduled between November 20 and December 18.
As European football continues to heat up, now is a good time to reflect on the business and financial trends of Europe’s top five leagues in the 2020/21 season and what the future holds for these leagues.
Below we take a look at how Europe’s top leagues compare in terms of finances, as calculated in Deloitte’s annual review of football finances 2022.
For this report, Deloitte considered the 2020/21 European football season. Two key points to note when understanding the business of football leagues are:
The size of the European football market in terms of revenue has actually increased despite the absence of fans for most of the 2020/21 season. The market increased by 10% to reach 27.6 billion euros. The boost came due to UEFA Euro 2020, which was held in the summer of 2021 in major European cities.
Key takeaways from Deloitte’s 2022 annual football funding review include:
Image: Deloitte’s annual football funding reports 2022
Europe’s ‘big five’ leagues recorded a total turnover of €15.6 billion in 2020/21, an increase of 3% compared to 2019/20. More worryingly though, excluding the Premier League, the ‘big five’ saw an increase in operating losses over the year, from €461m to €901m.
Below is the figure that explains the income of the “Big Five” of European leagues
While the English Premier League is clearly number one on the financial scale, the German Bundesliga and Spanish La Liga are vying for second place. When the revenues from 1996/97 to 2011/12 of the “big five” clubs in the European league were plotted on a graph, the graph lines of the Bundesliga and La Liga followed an almost similar trajectory, sometimes intertwining.
Serie A clubs have seen the highest percentage growth in overall revenue of any ‘big five’ league in 2020/21, rising 23% to a record €2.5 billion. It was also the only league in 2020/21 to register more revenue in 2018/19. Growth was mainly driven by broadcasting revenues.
In 2020/21, the revenues of Ligue 1 clubs (€1.6 billion) fell further compared to their closest rival, Serie A (€2.5 billion), the gap between both leagues having doubled to more than €0.9 billion. Ligue 1 clubs failed to achieve significant growth in 2020/21, with only a 1% increase in revenue compared to the pandemic-hit 2019/20 season. Worryingly, 2020/21 was the 14th consecutive year of combined losses for Ligue 1 clubs, with every Ligue 1 club recording an operating loss for the season, with total losses more than doubling in the past two disturbed seasons.
There is a sense of optimism for the ‘big five’ as with COVID-19 restrictions no longer in place, fans have flooded into stadiums from the 2021/22 season. UEFA’s new broadcast deal for 2021/22 to 2023/24 has increased revenue for participating clubs. Deloitte’s Annual Review of Football Finance 2022 report predicts the ‘big five’ leagues will generate a record €18.6 billion in combined revenue for European football’s 2022/23 season.
Two other key points mentioned in the report
1. As the Premier League enters its fourth decade, it will seemingly remain football’s premier league.
2. European football is emerging from one of the most difficult times in its history, as live, unscripted drama has brought fans back to the stadiums and continues to be must-have content for broadcasters.
(Edited by : Abhishek Jha)