J.League Sees Uptick In Revenue For '13, But Income For Clubs Is Down
Average income at the J.League's 18 top division clubs fell 2.4% to 3.1B yen ($30M) last year, even as revenue from sponsorship and gate receipts rose slightly. Ticket sales grew by 4.5% to an average of 693M yen ($6.78M) per club, despite a drop in attendances, with clubs selling more higher-priced seats. Income from transfers and profits made by club academies both fell. There was a lack of big money moves overseas last year, after a number of top players headed to Europe in previous seasons. Payments from the J.League were also lower, due to a drop in revenues from merchandising and local broadcast rights fees.
AN EXCLUSIVE CLUB: The income of two more clubs grew past the 4B yen ($39M) mark, including Yokohama F Marinos, in which Man City owners City Football Group bought a stake earlier this year. There are now four clubs in that bracket, including Urawa Reds, Japan's biggest, with income of 5.8B yen ($56.6M). Even as J1 attendances have fallen in recent years, the 22-club J2 division has continued to grow, with average income reaching a record 1.1B yen ($10.7M). Sponsorship revenues grew 18% to an average of 533M yen ($5.2M) and ticket sales were up 16% to 179M yen ($1.75M) per club. The presence of relegated Gamba Osaka in J2 during '13 contributed to higher revenues.
WARNING SIGNS: The J.League issued warnings to 11 clubs in '13 over their financial situation, of which only Avispa Fukuoka has failed to make significant improvements. If the J2 side spends a third year in the red and carrying debt, its license may be revoked under the financial rules implemented by the league in '12. J.League spokesperson Kunio Yoshida told SBD Global, "We don't want to take a club's license away, but the rules have to be applied fairly. We will give them until the last minute to rectify the situation."
Gavin Blair is a writer in Tokyo.