- The 24th edition of the Deloitte Football Money League profiles the financial performance of the highest revenue generating clubs in world football during a disrupted 2019/20 season;
- This year’s top 20 Money League clubs generated €8.2 billion, a decline of 12% compared to 2018/19 (€9.3 billion); This €1.1 billion decrease is explained by:
- a €937m (23%) drop in broadcast revenue, primarily due to revenue deferral and broadcaster rebates;
- a €257m (17%) fall in matchday revenue; and
- offset by a €105m (3%) increase in commercial revenue.
- Average revenue generated per club in the Money League top 20 was €409m in 2019/20, compared to €464m in 2018/19. This is similar to levels in the 2017/18 season;
- Rebates to broadcasters for the ‘big five’ leagues and UEFA reportedly total almost €1.2bn currently, of which a large proportion is borne by Money League clubs; and
- Matchday revenue of Money League clubs will likely be close to nil from March 2020, with fans seemingly unlikely to be able to return in significant numbers for any of the 2020/21 season.
The 20 highest revenue generating clubs in world football will have missed out on over €2 billion in revenue by the end of the 2020/21 season, according to the 24th edition of the Football Money League published by Deloitte’s Sports Business Group. Set against the context of the global economic and social disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic during the 2019/20 season, the report profiles the highest revenue generating clubs in world football.
Under normal circumstances, clubs typically have a financial year-end that aligns with their domestic season (May or June for most European leagues). The disruption to the 2019/20 football season and the differing approaches by the various leagues, broadcasters and commercial partners have resulted in clubs’ revenue generated in respect of the 2019/20 season being spread across two financial years ending in 2020 and 2021. The majority of Deloitte’s analysis in this year’s Money League is focused on the financial year ending 2020.
As a result, this has led to a deferral element and a permanently lost element (notably on matchday income, but also rebates to broadcasters) to the reduction in revenue. In terms of deferral, the disruption to the 2019/20 season in most clubs’ cases meant that approximately one quarter’s revenue from the financial year ending in 2020 has been shifted to the financial year ending in 2021, resulting in 2021 having an additional quarter’s revenue.
Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, commented: “Leagues across the world took different approaches in response to the pandemic with respect to their seasons, ranging from postponement to termination, with final standings determined using different methodologies, to others being annulled entirely.
“There is no doubt that this is one of the most testing times the football industry has ever had to endure. The absence of fans, postponement and cancellation of matches, rebates to broadcasters and the need to satisfy commercial partners have all significantly affected the compilation of the 2021 Football Money League. As a result, the comparability of relative performance between clubs in this year’s Money League is more challenging than usual.”
In detail – the 2021 Football Money League
The 20 highest earning football clubs in the world generated €8.2 billion of combined revenue in 2019/20, down 12% on the prior season (€9.3 billion). The €1.1 billion decrease is explained by:
a €937m (23%) drop in broadcast revenue, primarily due to the deferral of broadcast revenue into the financial year ending in 2021 and broadcaster rebates related to the disrupted 2019/20 season;
a €257m (17%) fall of matchday revenue as matches were first postponed, then either cancelled or resumed behind closed doors and thus irrecoverable;
offset by a €105m (3%) increase in commercial revenue, reflecting the commencement of several major commercial arrangements across Money League clubs in 2019/20.
Jones added: “Whilst no football club has been immune to the challenges of COVID-19, and other clubs have suffered more in relative terms, those in the Money League have borne the greatest financial impact in absolute value terms. In this year’s edition, the top 20 clubs generated an average of €409m per club, a decline of €55m compared to 2018/19 (€464m per club).
“The safe return of fans to stadia in significant numbers is one of the highest priorities across global football. Matchday operations are a cornerstone of a club’s business model and help drive other revenue-generating activity. Fans’ absence will be more fully reflected in next year’s Money League. The final size of the financial impact of the pandemic on football will depend, in no small part, on the timing and scale of fans’ return.”
Despite the significantly different conditions across leagues in the 2019/20 season, the Money League’s composition has remained broadly consistent with previous years. The constituents of the top ten remain unchanged, whilst 18 of the 20 clubs were present in last year’s Money League.
FC Barcelona (1st – €715.1m) and Real Madrid (2nd – €714.9m) remained at the top of this year’s Money League, with the gap between the two of just €0.2m being the closest in Money League history.
Barcelona suffered the second largest revenue fall in absolute terms of any Money League club, off the back of its record-breaking year in 2018/19 when it became the first club to break the €800m revenue barrier (€840.8m).
Real Madrid’s revenue decline was smaller. The club achieved a €28.1m (8%) increase in commercial revenue following the extension of key partnerships and from taking control of more revenue generating activities in-house.
Bayern Munich (€634.1m) rose to third place in this year’s Money League. A first top three placing since 2013/14. The club had the smallest revenue decrease (4%) of the Money League top ten, benefitting from being able to recognise all of its domestic broadcast revenue in the financial year ending in 2020 due to the earlier completion of the Bundesliga season.
Manchester United’s revenue of €580.4m (£509m) saw them slip to fourth place after a revenue decrease of €131.1m (£118.1m, 19%), the largest year-on-year decline in this year’s Money League. This was largely due to the Red Devils not competing in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League as well as being affected by the absence of matchday revenue and broadcast rebates and deferrals.
On the other hand, Liverpool entered the top five for the first time since 2001/02 with revenue of €558.6m (£489.9m). The club’s on-pitch success of the past few years continues to fuel financial success with the benefits associated with its Premier League triumph spread across the financial years ending in 2020 and 2021.
Manchester City (6th – €549.2m / £481.6m), Paris Saint-Germain (7th – €540.6m), Chelsea (8th €469.7m / £411.9m), Tottenham Hotspur (9th – €445.7m / £390.9m) and Juventus (10th – €397.9m) make up the remainder of the top ten.
18 of the 20 clubs were also present in last year’s edition – with FC Zenit (15th – €236.5m) and Eintracht Frankfurt (20th – €174m) replacing AS Roma and West Ham United. Zenit’s revenues were boosted by participation in the 2019/20 Champions League and benefitted from having a calendar year end (to 31 December 2019) and hence their revenues for the period were largely unaffected by the pandemic, whilst the completion of the Bundesliga season within the financial year helped Eintracht Frankfurt enter the Money League top 20 for the first time.
Only two clubs in the Money League top 20, FC Zenit and Everton (17th – €212m / £185.9m) saw an increase in revenue compared to the previous year. Everton’s marginal revenue growth was driven by the club’s commercial revenue more than doubling to €86.7m (£76m). This was the largest growth (104%) in commercial revenue across all Money League clubs.
Tim Bridge, director in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, commented: “The COVID-19 pandemic has provided an impetus for clubs to rethink and recalibrate their wider strategic objectives and business models to ensure a strong recovery from the current situation.
“In particular, the focus on both internal and external digital capabilities has accelerated as digital interaction has become the dominant way in which clubs can engage with their employees and fans. The most agile, and innovative clubs will be the best placed to deliver the greater value to their key stakeholders and be rewarded with the fastest and strongest recovery.”
Deloitte’s Sports Business Group estimates that this year’s Money League clubs will have missed out on over €2 billion in revenue by the end of the 2020/21 season. This figure includes amounts missed in respect of 2019/20 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily due to:
Matchday revenue of Money League clubs being close to nil from March 2020 onwards, with fans seemingly unlikely to be able to return in significant numbers for any of the 2020/21 season;
Broadcast rebates of the ‘big five’ leagues and UEFA reportedly total almost €1.2bn currently, of which a large proportion is borne by Money League clubs; and
The lost potential to continue their previous growth trajectory over the period.
Jones concluded: “We remain strong believers in the fundamental value of top-level football to fans, broadcasters and other commercial partners. We are confident in the resilience of the industry and expect it to bounce back strongly in future years.
“The events of the past year have challenged the ability of clubs to drive their own revenue growth. Any short term ambitions they may have had will likely only be achievable as medium term goals once fans return to stadia and the effect of the pandemic on the global economy and the path to recovery from it becomes clearer.
“The full financial impact of COVID-19 may not be realised for years to come, with continued uncertainty forcing existing and potential broadcast and commercial partners to consider their investment into sport. Positively for the Football Money League clubs, the global pandemic has highlighted the importance of sport to communities and wider society, reinforcing its fundamental strengths and value to broadcasters and sponsors.”