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SBD Global/June 3, 2016/Finance

English Football Clubs' Revenue Topped £4B For First Time In '14-15 Season

Clubs from the top four tiers of English football generated more than £4B "in revenue for the first time" in the '14-15 season, according to Ben Reynolds of SKY SPORTS. The 25th annual football finances review by Deloitte has "also revealed that clubs recorded a second consecutive year of pre-tax profits" in '14-15, the first time this has happened since '99. The vast majority of the £4B "was generated by the Premier League," whose 20 clubs posted figures of £3.3B to remain Europe's most profitable league, generating over £1.5B more than the Bundesliga with La Liga third. In contrast, "clubs in Italy's Serie A and France's Ligue 1 generated combined operating losses." Deloitte's Adam Bull said, "It's the most equitable distribution across those leading leagues. Because of the size of the deal, and the fact it's distributed more equitably than the others, that's why on any given Saturday any of the sides can beat another." Premier League clubs' combined gross expenditure on player transfers "also saw a record-high" of £1.1B in the '14-15 season (SKY SPORTS, 6/2). The BBC reported with more "lucrative TV deals" from '16, Deloitte said that clubs are "looking at at least three more years of big growth." Dan Jones from the business consultancy's Sport Business Group said, "What we are seeing is a continuation of club profitability, it is certainly not a one-off. We feel Premier League clubs have turned the corner, and are entering a new era of sustained profitability. Clubs are now attractive propositions to investors, and not merely as vanity projects." He also said that it was "encouraging to see that much of this new-found TV wealth was being spent by clubs not only on players, but also on improving stadia and infrastructure." Jones: "The pace of football's financial growth in two and a half decades is staggering. By half-time of the second televised Premier League game next year, more broadcast revenue will have been generated than during the whole of the First Division season 25 years ago" (BBC, 6/2). In London, Paul McClean reported analysts say that a "number of Premier League football clubs could be bought out by the end of the year as their increasing profitability attracts investors." Clubs in England's top division "have for long made heavy losses," but are "starting to turn a profit." Jones said, "After 20 years of being good at revenue but poor at bottom line, this is a new era for PL finances. Teams had always been attractive to overseas investors, but they were traditionally bought more for emotional reasons or as trophy assets. The fact they are now making consistent profits means they will be seen as viable financial assets from now on." Square1 Consulting Chair David Bick said, "Premier League clubs are now more reasonable investments -- the broadcast money has put all 20 teams on a level playing field, and it will now be difficult for clubs not to make an operating profit." China’s "growing interest in football and the Premier League has been one of the stories of the season." Jones said that it "was only a matter of time before a Chinese owner buys a club in the top division." He said, "I’d be very surprised if there wasn’t at least one Chinese owner of a Premier League club before the year is out" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 6/1).
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