Premier League clubs can “look forward with optimism” after new figures from Deloitte revealed combined revenues rose to UK£4.9 billion (US$5.9 billion) in the first full season following the coronavirus outbreak.
Key findings from the financial company’s 31st Annual Review of Football Finance show the figure increased by eight per cent for the 2020/21 campaign, having plummeted from UK£5.2 billion (US$6.27 billion) to UK£4.5 billion (US$5.42 billion) the previous year in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic.
Revenues for English top-flight sides are predicted to hit UK£5.5 billion (US$6.63 billion) for the 2021/22 season and UK£6 billion (US$7.2 billion) 12 months later, surpassing pre-Covid levels.
According to the Deloitte report, there was a recovery across the combined European soccer market, with overall revenues increasing by ten per cent to €27.6 billion (US$28 billion), despite an almost complete absence of fans from stadia during that period.
The uplift was largely driven by deferred broadcast revenues and the success of the rearranged Uefa Euro 2020 national team tournament.
Europe’s ‘big five’ – the Premier League, the Bundesliga in Germany, Spain’s LaLiga, Italy’s Serie A and Ligue 1 in France – grew by three per cent to €15.6 billion (US$15.8 billion).
Yet the Premier League, which generated just UK£31 million (US$37.3 million) in matchday revenue, was the only one of the five divisions to see clubs improve total operating profits, which cumulatively increased from UK£49 million (US$59.1 million) to UK£479 million (US$577 million).
When excluding the Premier League, total operating losses for the ‘big five’, were up from €461 million (US$469 million) to €901 million (US$917 million).
Tim Bridge, lead partner in Deloitte’s sports business group, believes Premier League clubs have reason for financial confidence moving forward.
“At Premier League level, if you look purely at the revenue generated by the clubs then you would say that the message is overarchingly positive in terms of how they’ve come through the pandemic,” said.
“Obviously it has been a shock to the overall business model of the clubs and they’ve had to adjust and work in slightly different ways.
“But as we look at the financial reports of the Premier League clubs to get through this they haven’t had to take on significant amounts of external debt, they haven’t had to hamstring themselves in ways in which maybe other clubs around Europe or some of the Championship clubs have had to.
“While there are still going to be challenges ahead, all those Premier League clubs they can now look forward with optimism for what’s to come.”
The increase in Premier League revenues is largely attributable to a reported broadcast rebate of UK£330 million (US$398 million) and the deferral of some broadcast income from the 2019/20 season.
Despite decreasing from UK£991 million (US$1.19 billion) to UK£669 million (US$806 million), pre-tax losses remained significant, with only four clubs – Leeds, Manchester City, Sheffield United and Wolves – reporting a pre-tax profit.
Overall, Premier League clubs’ net debt increased by four per cent from UK£3.9 billion (US$4.7 billion) to UK£4.1 billion (US$4.94 billion).