Football clubs’ revenues and profits hit by coronavirus crisis

02.02.2021

While recent pre-COVID-19 seasons demonstrated a stable growth path of the football industry’s elite, the past season was distressing for most clubs, albeit to various extents. Indeed, financial performance data for all 43 clubs in 10 top division European leagues whose financial results for the 2019/20 season1 are presently available reveal an aggregate decrease of EUR 1.2b (-13% year on year) in total operating revenues2. While the average drop in overall income among the clubs surveyed was EUR 28.8m, we can observe major differences in the financial performance of individual clubs, ranging from massive losses to modest revenue growth.

According to Andrea Sartori, KPMG’s Global Head of Sports, the COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for most football clubs, although to various degrees.

Due to the partial absence of gate receipts, in addition to the renegotiation, suspension or cancellation of payments from media and commercial agreements, a common denominator of the industry was liquidity concerns. For several European clubs, liquidity issues could only be faced, sometimes only partially, through renegotiation, reduction or postponement of footballers’ wages. However, some clubs could mitigate the impact of the pandemic with established and successful business operations and/or good sporting performance. For example, clubs who could sell in the summer 2019 transfer windows some of their talents could find some financial remedy in their business model, whereas qualification and/or successful participation in international tournaments could, in some cases, also play a significant role in clubs' financial performance,” Andrea Sartori points out.

Manchester United FC and FC Barcelona suffered the largest annual decreases in operating income in absolute terms, recording a decrease of EUR 131.6m and EUR 126.1 respectively, an annual drop of 18.5% and 15.0%. They were also the only clubs with decreases in operating revenues in excess of EUR 100m. FC Porto’s EUR 89m decrease constituted the highest annual decline in percentage terms (-50%), mainly a result of their early exit from the Champions League qualifying rounds, thus missing out on the lucrative income from the main European club tournament for the first time in eight years.

Our interactive dashboard shows a sample of 43 clubs, that have already published their financials for the 2019/20 season.1

The sample also includes 11 clubs who have managed to increase their operating revenues during the pandemic-impacted season. Most notably, Getafe CF’s overall revenues grew by EUR 27.6m, a remarkable annual growth of 46.1%, as they benefitted in particular from their progress to the UEFA Europa League Round of 16, their first involvement in an international tournament since the 2010/11 season. Similarly, the 2nd highest growth, EUR 19.1m was recorded by Sporting Clube de Braga, who managed to progress to the UEFA Europa League Round of 32.

Looking deeper at the key revenue streams of this sample of clubs, we can see that broadcasting income was impacted to the greatest extent: TV rights for these clubs decreased by an aggregate EUR 875.8m, a 20% drop compared to a year before. The main reasons of this massive decrease are the deferral of part of the broadcasting revenues to the following financial year due to the reschedule of several matches after the financial closing date, and some broadcasters rebates. Matchday income decreased to a similar extent year on year in percentage terms, suffering an overall 17% drop, however, the accumulated decrease was more modest at EUR 273.9m. Commercial revenues were the least impacted by the unprecedented circumstances: a 3% aggregate drop resulted in a EUR 88.1m decrease for the 43 clubs. Interestingly, despite the major losses in TV rights, broadcasting remained the key revenue source for this sample of clubs at 43% share of total revenues, followed closely by commercial income (41%) and matchday revenues at 16%.

Profitability figures also paint a diverse portrait. All in all, cumulative net losses for this sample of clubs, excluding Liverpool FC3, were about EUR 1.4b, a significant worsening of EUR 1.3b compared to the previous financial year. Nevertheless, there were 17 clubs reporting a net profit, with SL Benfica recording the highest in the sample at EUR 41.7m, mainly as a result of their landmark sale of João Felix to Atlético Madrid, who generated a net profit on player disposal of EUR 108m. Similarly, nurturing and selling talents were key factors for AFC Ajax, who recorded the 3rd highest result (EUR 20.4m) mainly thanks to the sale of Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus FC. However, their profit decreased by EUR 31.4m over the year due to an early exit from their Champions League campaign in comparison to the previous season. On the other hand, Sporting Clube de Braga’s remarkable EUR 22.0m net result, the 2nd highest, benefits from improved UEFA distributions, as the Portuguese side advanced to the Round of 32 in the Europa League. The most prominent clubs reporting a positive net result were FC Bayern München4 and Real Madrid CF, whose positive results (EUR 5.9m and EUR 0.3m, respectively) were mainly due to their ability to increase commercial income.

In contrast, Italian clubs AS Roma and AC Milan disclosed the highest net losses: EUR 204m and EUR 194.6m, respectively. Both clubs have been struggling with their finances for several years, as they were incapable of increasing operating revenues, and the crisis has only magnified these flaws in their current business operations. The two Italian sides were accompanied by Everton FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Porto and FC Internazionale, all recording a net loss of more than EUR 100m. Everton’s worsened loss (from EUR 126.8m to EUR 159.3m year on year) was mainly a result of their increasing staff costs with several prominent signings such as André Gomes and Alex Iwobi among others, while their revenues were stable compared to the previous year. PSG’s net loss of EUR 125.8m was primarily due to the fact that the French Ligue 1 was shortened as opposed to being delayed and completed later, the only top domestic European league to do so.

Regarding year-on-year changes in profitability, nine clubs were able to improve their net results, with the top three being Portuguese clubs Sporting Clube de Portugal, Sporting Clube de Braga and SL Benfica by EUR 20.4m, EUR 15.8m and EUR 12.3m, respectively.


1Our charts list the 43 clubs, whose financial results for the 2019/20 season were already available as at 29 January 2021. For more financial data regarding these clubs, please refer to the KPMG Football Benchmark platform, which provides analysis on the financial and operational performance of more than 200 European and South American football clubs over several seasons.

2 From a comparability perspective, the delay and/or cancellation of matches, in some cases played after the financial year-end closure, and the uncertainty over potential renegotiations of payments from media and commercial agreements – including UEFA-related income – have posed challenges on how revenues and costs have been accounted for by clubs. The postponement of a certain number of matches after the closing date of the 2019/20 financial year, due to the COVID-19 health emergency, has in some cases caused discrepancy between clubs, and within the same club when compared to the 2018/19 season, in terms of accrual basis of revenues and costs. In the authoring of this article, we relied on information included in the published Financial Statements – or in the information obtained after consultation with management – of each club, and we have not performed any verification work or audited any such financial information. 

3Liverpool FC have yet to release detailed financial information on staff costs and profitability figures as at the date of publication.

4All data refer to the individual financial statements of FC Bayern München AG. Consolidated data were not available as at the date of publication.