The wealth of European football: How UEFA distributes revenue among clubs

03.05.2016

With Europe’s major leagues reaching their climax and the pursuit of a place in next season’s Champions League dominating the agenda, KPMG’s Football Benchmark team looks at how UEFA has distributed revenues in its two major competitions over the past three seasons.

The importance of qualifying for the Champions League to Europe’s top football clubs is well documented and understood. The Champions League generated just under EUR 1 billion in revenue for the participating clubs in 2014-15. At the same time, UEFA also distributed almost EUR 240 million to clubs competing in the Europa League in the same timeframe, a moderate sum when compared with Champions League revenues, but still a significant amount.

While each competing club is entitled to a fixed participation fee, performance bonus is dependent on the results of the club in the group stage of the competition and subsequent progress made in the knockout stages. The third component, market pool distribution, is divided among clubs based on the value of the national TV market of each club. As a result, three major factors come into play in calculating European revenues earned by the clubs of each country:  the number of teams representing the country; the success of representing teams; and the size of the market pool of each country.

Our analysis resulted in the following insights:

  • In line with on-pitch success, Spanish clubs commanded the highest share of revenues with EUR 570m. Between 2012-13 and 2014-15, four of the six major European trophies were won by clubs in LaLiga. These successes resulted in Spanish clubs earning the highest total revenues, despite having access to a TV market pool (EUR 252m) slightly lower than England (EUR 263m), the second highest earning group of clubs.
  • With a total revenue of EUR 462m received from UEFA between 2012-13 and 2014-15, Italian clubs occupy the third position. On Champions League revenues alone, Italy is placed below Germany. However Italian clubs benefited significantly from Europa League revenue distribution, earning EUR 91m from the competition – 32% more than the total earned Spanish clubs, despite Sevilla FC being champions in both 2014 and 2015. Italian clubs occupied the highest number of participation spots in the Europa League (13), more than any other country, and also commanded the highest Europa League TV market pool distributed among clubs (EUR 56.8m).
  • Italian teams are closely followed by German clubs (EUR 455m). While Germany was well represented at European level with a total of 11 Champions League and 8 Europa League competitors in the last three seasons, its clubs received the lowest TV market pool revenues among the ‘big five’ countries (EUR 199m).
  • French clubs, the least revenue earning group among the ‘big five’, received higher revenues than German clubs from the market pool (EUR 216m) but their position was impacted by considerably lower participation fees and performance bonuses. French clubs occupied just 15 spots across the Champions League and the Europa League with Paris Saint-Germain FC the only French club reaching the latter stages of the UCL in each of the three seasons under review.

Unsurprisingly, clubs from the ‘big five’ countries account for the majority of the revenue distributed by UEFA, some 71%.  However, revenue distribution was more equitable in the Europa League. The share received by clubs from the ‘big five’ was just 48%. During the analysed period, 30 of 54 UEFA affiliated associations were not represented in the group and knockout stages of the Champions League, while only 11 associations had representation in each of the three seasons. By contrast, 34 associations were represented at least once in the Europa League and as many as half of them took part in the competition in all three editions.

The revenue pools of the two European competitions vary considerably and underline the enormous value and prestige of a place in the UEFA Champions League. However the Europa League provides clubs from smaller countries a platform to participate in continental football and now has the added incentive qualification for the following season’s Champions League for the winners.