Broadcasting Revenues Drive Growth at Top European Clubs, according to “The European Champions Report 2020”
Top European football clubs continue growing operating revenues, with growth driven primarily by increased broadcasting revenues, benefitting mainly from the new, more remunerative UEFA Champions League distribution cycle that kicked off in 2018/19 – these conclusions come from “The European Champions Report 2020” launched today by KPMG’s Football Benchmark team.
Unlike a year before, when only two clubs from Europe’s eight top football leagues could retain their domestic title, the 2018/19 season has seen six champions – FC Barcelona, FC Bayern München, Galatasaray SK, Juventus FC, Manchester City FC and Paris Saint-Germain FC – regain their domestic trophy. The two “newcomers” were AFC Ajax, who won the Dutch Eredivisie again after 4 years, and SL Benfica, winning their 5th Portuguese title in 6 years and regaining the throne from last year’s winners, FC Porto.
Regarding overall revenues (net of transfer proceeds), all eight clubs have increased their total income. FC Barcelona have become the champions of the champions, registering a record amount of EUR 839.5M in total operating revenues – and in that regard they have, for the first time, also leapfrogged their historical rivals, Real Madrid CF and Manchester United FC, although these latter two clubs are not included in this analysis. Paris Saint-Germain FC registered the second highest total income (EUR 636M, a 17% year-on-year growth), while AFC Ajax showed the highest operating revenue increase of 117%, primarily due to their excellent UEFA Champions League performance.
“The most striking trend for the year has been broadcasting revenues taking the lead as the main driver for overall revenue increase at seven of the eight champions, whereas in the previous season commercial income was the key contributor for growth,” Andrea Sartori, KPMG’s Global Head of Sports and author of the report pointed out.
The broadcasting revenue stream benefited from a new, more remunerative UCL distribution cycle that kicked off in 2018/19: the 3-year cycle, worth altogether EUR 1.976B a year (EUR 564M more annually than the previous one), has been the key factor supporting the growth of all eight champions.
FC Bayern München, for example, received more income from UEFA than in the previous season, despite having played fewer matches due to an earlier elimination. Manchester City FC cashed in about EUR 35M more from UEFA, while the team reached the same stage of the competition as they did in the previous edition. AFC Ajax’s spectacular campaign alone resulted in collecting EUR 78M of UEFA revenues, which was also the main driver for more than doubling their operating revenues. The only exception was Juventus FC: their 30% increase in commercial revenues (the highest growth among the eight champions), impacted mainly by the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo, surpassed their modest growth in broadcasting revenues, which was also affected by a decrease in domestic TV income due to a new distribution system in place in Serie A. With UEFA money having such a major impact on top clubs’ revenues, it remains to be seen if and how club competition format at a European level will evolve in the next few years, and how such an evolution would shape clubs’ fortunes and competitiveness.
As a further consequence, at five of the eight champions broadcasting has become the income stream with the largest share of total operating revenues, while this was the case for only two clubs in the previous season. Commercial bore the biggest share for three clubs, compared to that being the case for six clubs a year before. The three clubs where commercial revenues had the biggest impact on their turnover were FC Barcelona, FC Bayern München and Paris Saint-Germain FC; interestingly, only these three clubs were able to collect over EUR 300M from commercial activities.
Four clubs have seen a slight increase in their staff costs/operating revenue ratios, but all were able to control costs in line with the 70% threshold, a parameter monitored by UEFA. Most specifically, FC Barcelona managed to decrease their ratio from 81% to 69% in only one season, despite the club having remained the biggest spenders in staff costs among any football club.
It is also remarkable that all clubs managed to register a profit after tax, the only exception being Juventus FC: the Bianconeri’s losses increased by EUR 20.7M, a direct consequence of higher staff costs, i.e. the investments made to strengthen the squad, especially luring Cristiano Ronaldo to the club.
The average squad value of the eight champions is EUR 745M, whereas both FC Barcelona and Manchester City FC are worth over 10 times more than Galatasaray SK.
“Although players’ transfer fees are seemingly constantly on the increase, the squad values of the eight champions’ dream team have slightly decreased over the year by EUR 30M, indicating that market values of top players have not undergone an upward spiral in the past 12 months,” Andrea Sartori concluded.
 All data refer to the individual financial statements of FC Bayern München AG. Consolidated data were not available at the date of publication.