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Volume 10 No. 22
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Revenues Across Europe Hit €18.5B In '16, UEFA Study Finds

Data from UEFA shows that the "huge sums that leading football clubs can pay in transfer fees on the back of consistent revenue growth is propping up smaller clubs across the continent," according to Murad Ahmed of the FINANCIAL TIMES. Revenues at European teams hit €18.5B in '16, tripling in value since '00, the research shows. This growth has been "led mainly by record broadcasting contracts" across the top five leagues in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France. But the £8B ($11B) in domestic and int'l broadcasting income shared between English Premier League clubs "has left them in a stronger position as prospective acquirers," able to pay higher transfer fees than most of their European counterparts. Only four clubs outside England -- Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Inter Milan -- "are in Europe’s top 20 clubs by broadcasting revenues" (FT, 1/16). The BELFAST TELEGRAPH reported European football clubs "are earning and spending more money than ever before" but UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin is concerned about the growing “polarization” between the "super-rich and everyone else." As "numerous other reports have revealed," the EPL continues to "lead the way financially and has stretched its lead over its rivals" in terms of total revenue, broadcast revenue, commercial deals and gate receipts. Such is the league’s "dominance" that its 20 clubs earned more in '16 than "all 597 clubs from UEFA’s 48 smallest markets" -- in other words, all except France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain and Turkey. ManU is Europe’s biggest earner, with Man City (sixth), Arsenal (seventh), Chelsea (eighth) and Liverpool (ninth) all in the top 10 (BELFAST TELEGRAPH, 1/16).

MORE OF THE SAME: ESPN.com reported the financial gap between Europe's biggest clubs and the rest of the continent "is increasing because of the growing impact of sponsorships," according to the UEFA study. Europe's biggest 12 clubs (England's big six, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Paris St. Germain and Juventus) have sponsorship deals and commercial activities "to thank" for 55% of their revenue growth from '10-16. The UEFA study said, "Our analysis suggests that the polarization of commercial and sponsor revenues between the top tier of clubs and the rest is set to continue" (ESPN.com, 1/16).

SERIE A STRUGGLES: FOOTBALL ITALIA reported UEFA’s report "lays bare Serie A’s issues with stadiums," with a 3% drop in gate receipts. Most clubs in Italy do not own their own stadiums, and many have not been "significantly upgraded since the country hosted the 1990 World Cup." While Serie A "sits fourth overall," clubs made on average just €9.9M from stadium revenue in the '16-17 season. Spanish clubs brought in €22.7M, Bundesliga sides €27.1M and EPL clubs €39M (FOOTBALL ITALIA, 1/17).

LUCRATIVE BUSINESS: In London, Nick Harris wrote UEFA's report suggests football agents have taken a "staggering" £2.5B ($3.5B) as commission on player transfers to clubs in Europe since '13 alone. This "works out" at around 13% commission on the total incoming transfer activity of around £19B spent from '13-17. The analysis emphasizes the "phenomenal power and earning potential of key middlemen -- and the riches they can earn simply by shipping players from club to club." UEFA found that in 32 "significant" transfers in the past few years, where the transfer fee was worth at least €1M ($1.2M), the fee paid to the agent who brokered that deal was at least 100% "as much as the fee itself, on top of the fee" (DAILY MAIL, 1/16).