Top-tier European professional clubs will have a revenue loss in the 2019-21 period of € 7.2 billion, according to a UEFA report that shows that the resumption of competitions after the pandemic saved around € 2 billion in reimbursements for concept of TV.
The twelfth edition of this year’s “Panorama of UEFA European club football” report notes that despite a drop of 210 million fans in matches, the general interest in European club football is greater than ever, with record TV audience figures, new investors and investments and a rebound in club web traffic.
The more than one hundred pages of the document published this Friday examine the effects at all levels of the health crisis and highlight the effectiveness of Financial Fair Play, affirming that “if the pandemic had occurred in 2012, the impact on club football would have been catastrophic”.
It also underlines “the importance of unity, solidarity and respect in the entire pyramid structure of football” and states that UEFA’s solidarity benefits to clubs amount to € 558 million per year, which will increase thereafter. “Which far exceeds what was predicted by the split competitions.”
Impact of the pandemic on club finances
– After more than 20 years of growth at an average of more than 8% per year, the forecast is that the first division clubs will lose between € 7,200 and € 8,100 million in revenue in the financial years 2019/20 and 2020/21 and the minor leagues € 1,500 million.
– This figure includes a maximum of € 4 billion in losses from ticket sales, € 2.7 billion in commercial and sponsorship revenue and € 1.4 billion from broadcasts.
– Lost income from ticket sales amounts to € 85 million per week.
– Professional clubs have lost 210 million spectators in stadiums since the start of the pandemic (140 first-level and 70 in minor leagues).
– The savings in salary and operating costs have only partially offset the loss of income. The impact of covid-19 on operating profits is expected to reach at least € 5,300 in 2019/20 and 2020/21.
– Since the beginning of 2020, 15 first division clubs and 37 second division clubs from 24 countries have suffered a serious financial event (withdrawal or exclusion from the league) or insolvency proceedings. The total of 42 clubs in calendar year 2020 surpasses the previous record of 34 cases at the peak of club overspending in 2011.
Impact of the pandemic on signings
– Spending on transfers in the summer of 2020 was reduced by 39% compared to the record of the summer of 2019 and by 30% compared to the average of the three previous summers.
– Total spending on transfers exceeded € 4 billion. In 43% of operations worldwide at least one English club was involved.
– The transfer window in January showed no signs of recovery. Transfer spending by European clubs was reduced by 56% compared to January of the previous year and was 61% below the record of January 2018.
– These lower transfer levels will also affect the final profits of 2020 and 2021 (estimated reduction of € 2 billion in profits from transfers).
Impact of the pandemic in other aspects
– More than 15 million amateur players have been affected by the interruption of training sessions and games.
– The national federations have adapted their calendar and format to the pandemic, which has allowed the conclusion of 39 men’s cup competitions in 2020 and will allow the conclusion of 51 in 2021.
– Some leagues had the highest viewership figures in their history, showing that fan interest in football remains very high, even when played without spectators.
– The number of away victories has increased by 30 top divisions since the start of the pandemic. Local wins have decreased by 3% and since the resumption of the national leagues in 2020 the percentage of draws has increased from 23% to 24%.
– Substitutions per team per game have increased from an average of 2.8 between 2017 and 2020 to an average of 3.7 since summer 2020, following the introduction of the five substitution rule in most of the first games national divisions.
– In 2020 Spain and Denmark announced plans to prevent betting companies from sponsoring clubs, bringing the number of countries with these restrictions to 16.
– In 2020 only five countries reported the total absence of restrictions on club ownership. Most of the leagues applied restrictions on the ownership of various clubs, rules on the legal form of these or controls and tests on potential new owners.
Despite the economic downturn caused by the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns around the world, European football clubs remained as attractive to investors as ever. Between January 2020 and April 2021, there were some 52 acquisitions of majority stakes.