SBD/Issue 185/Leagues & Governing Bodies

Top Five Euro Soccer Leagues See Increase In Revenues, Wages

German Bundesliga Tops EPL As
World's Most Profitable Soccer League

Deloitte's Review of Football Finance found that the combined revenue of the EPL, French Ligue 1, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A and Spanish La Liga during the '08-09 FY grew $9.4B (all figures U.S.), or 3%, from the previous year, "helped by a variety of factors, from strong broadcast deals to off-field commercial activity and solid ticket sales," according to Matthew Saltmarsh of the N.Y. TIMES. The Bundesliga posted the "highest absolute and relative growth of any of the major leagues," and the league's commercial revenue rose 16%. The EPL's revenue increased $70.6M, or 3%, but its revenue in euro terms fell 5% "because of the pound's decline against the euro." Meanwhile, Ligue 1's revenue "touched 1 billion euros for the first time," or $1.19B. However, Deloitte in the report indicated while the "'big five' leagues have shown admirable resilience to the economic climate in terms of revenue generation, the imbalance between revenue and costs has, in the main, worsened." Deloitte indicated that one area "of particular concern is wages, where the inflation shows little sign of moderating," as salaries in the leagues increased by $364.2M, or 6%, in '08-09. The report also indicated that the net debt of EPL clubs in '08-09 increased to $4.76B from $4.61B the previous season (N.Y. TIMES, 6/8).

TOP FIVE EURO SOCCER LEAGUE '08-09 REVENUES
LEAGUE (COUNTRY)
REVENUE
YEAR-OVER-YEAR % +/-
EPL (England)
$2.73B
-5%
Bundesliga (Germany)
$1.91B
10%
La Liga (Spain)
$1.79B
4%
Serie A (Italy)
$1.79B
5%
Ligue 1 (France)
$1.19B
6%

NO LONGER ON TOP: REUTERS' Alan Baldwin noted the Bundesliga in the report overtook the EPL "as the world's most profitable league in 2008/09 despite English soccer enjoying record revenues." EPL operating profits "more than halved" from $266.8M in '07-08 to $113.9M in '08-09, while the Bundesliga's '08-09 operating profits were $206.8M. Baldwin noted the $70.6M rise in EPL revenue "was less than half" the $190.3M "increase in wage costs which reached more than" $1.87B (REUTERS, 6/7). The BBC's Bill Wilson noted the report indicated that "soaring wages are threatening the stability" of EPL clubs, who "spent 67% of their revenues" on player wages during '08-09. Deloitte Sports Business Group Partner Dan Jones: "That's too high." Wilson noted only 10 of the 20 EPL clubs "made an operating profit in 2008/09, one less than a year before" (BBC.co.uk, 6/8). In London, Mark Fleming noted spending on player salaries among EPL clubs has "rocketed" in the last three years, as wages have "soared by more than 55 per cent in that period." EPL clubs are "so concerned about the prospect of fighting off the demands of players and their agents they have yet to announce just how much money has been raised by selling the league's TV rights overseas" (London INDEPENDENT, 6/8). 

WAKE-UP CALL? In London, Rory Smith writes the report is a "clear warning for clubs in light of Portsmouth's demise" and with UEFA "determined to force teams to spend within their means" (London TELEGRAPH, 6/8). The FINANCIAL TIMES' Michael Kavanagh noted the report indicated that Serie A "saw 73 per cent of total revenues absorbed by wages, while France's Ligue 1 at 69 per cent also had a worse ratio" than the EPL. La Liga "stood at 63 per cent of revenues," and that league suffers the "largest disparity of income between clubs." The Bundesliga's player wage levels were 51% of total revenue (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/8). 

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