The United Kingdom is home to over half of the world’s 20 richest football clubs for the first time in history. As of the 2021/2022 season, 11 of England’s Premier League clubs made it into the list of the world’s wealthiest clubs, according to Deloitte’s Annual 2022 Football Finance Review.
The Premier League, which had its first season in 1992/93, is now celebrating its 30th year. The league has seen impressive growth in its finances and appeal over the last 30 years and is now watched by audiences worldwide. Last year in its 2020/21 season, the Premier League’s total revenue reached £4.9 billion. This signifies a jaw-dropping 2,400% increase in revenue since its birth in the early 1990s.
Scottsdale-based (Arizona) accountant and Deloitte marketing report enthusiast, Brian Murphy of a Scottsdale chartered accountants discusses recent significant shifts in the football economy with NonGenTech and what we can expect from the future oversees revenue of the premier league.
How have football finances changed?
The assistant director of Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, Zal Udwadia, has stated that England’s dominance (as opposed to Welsh football or the Irish marketplace) in the football money league is unprecedented. In fact, it’s not just within the top 20 that we see England’s Premier League taking the lead. There are 16 Premier League clubs in the top 30, again meaning England’s Premier League holds over half of the top spots.
Furthermore, predictions from experts, including Zal Udwadia and specialist accountant Brian Murphy, suggest that this dominance will continue. As a result, we will likely see all 20 top English teams making their way onto the list of the world’s top 30 wealthiest teams in the coming years.
One of the most noteworthy examples of recent growth is Liverpool club, which has risen 4 places and now sits as the third richest club worldwide. The club climbed four spots, with a revenue of £594 million, beating Manchester United for the first time in Deloitte’s review history.
Last season, Liverpool football club boosted their earnings by almost £107 million. Much of this came after they reached the Champions League final and gained additional income from broadcasts. They were also one of few clubs to report matchday takings of over £95 million as fans slowly return to in-person events following the Covid-19 pandemic.
English teams Chelsea, Tottenham, and Arsenal have taken the last 3 spaces in the top 10, while Leeds, Everton, West Ham, Newcastle, and Leicester also hold places within the top 20. It is rather strange, given the huge cities in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland (the other parts of the UK of course) why the highest performin football teams are concentrated in England. Teams like Celtic in Scotland (Glasgow), and Linfield F.C. (Northern Ireland) simply can’t compete.
Unfortunately, the Premier League’s post-pandemic bounce back has not been universal. Spain’s best clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, are still trying to recover. So far, the clubs have not reached their 2018/19 pre-pandemic revenues.
Brian Murphy notes that not everything has changed in the top 20 list. Manchester remains the wealthiest football club globally, with revenues of £619 million in the 2021/22 season. Real Madrid has kept its position as the second richest club despite being unable to return to its pre-pandemic levels, sitting just behind Manchester with a 2021/22 revenue of £604 million.
The future of football finances
Seeing how Premier League clubs have rapidly expanded their revenues, with many growing beyond their pre-pandemic levels, questions regarding other clubs are rising.
The lead partner of Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, Tim Bridge, has expressed his doubts on the topic. Currently, millions follow the Premier League and its clubs. This global interest gives Premier League clubs a significant advantage and means international clubs may face difficulties trying to close the gap and gain their own international media rights. It also makes it easier for Premier League clubs when executing international acquisitions of overseas players.
Interest in the Premier League from investors, fans, and commercial partners appears to have reached an all-time high. This encourages an optimistic outlook on continued growth. However, experts warn that stakeholders will need to clarify their responsibilities to compete against calls for greater wealth distribution and corporate finance across English clubs and the current cost of living crisis.
Some of Europe’s biggest clubs are already facing troubles. (such as the current financial reviews and public interest assignments at Juventus). The ‘big 5’ European leagues have yet to reach their pre-pandemic revenues, although they have succeeded in achieving 3% growth since the previous 2020/21 season. This is where we are seeing commercial disputes and trading difficulties with clubs like Barcelona also, trying to be creative with their revenues and forensic accounting due to financial forecasting issues and the need to buy new transfers in the transfer window.
Given the slowing growth of Europe’s biggest football leagues, some are worried that the Premier League’s dominance will be bad for the rest of Europe. In particular, the chairman of Juventus, Andrea Agnelli, suggests structural reforms of Europe’s football will be the key to tackling the issue. If the structural reforms are not attempted or fail, we will likely talents leaving Europe for major Premier League clubs.
And it’s not just European clubs that are struggling. Many clubs have yet to return to their pre-pandemic revenues, with a shocking 90% of EFL’s Championship clubs operating at a loss last season in terms of their corporate finance.
If the Premier League continues to dominate and other leagues and clubs do not catch up, we’re likely to see more clubs going under due to drains on talent and missed revenue opportunities.
Women’s football leagues
Women’s football leagues have yet to reach the same heights as male leagues. Last year, average revenues for the top women’s clubs were around £1.8 million compared to £619 million for the top men’s football club (Manchester City).
However, many are optimistic about the future of women’s football leagues. Deloitte’s Tim Bridge comments that professional women’s football is only at the start of its journey. Despite this, we have seen record-breaking audience numbers for several international tournaments over the last 4 years.
Growing audiences are leading leagues and clubs worldwide to increase their focus on women’s football. This development will naturally result in rising revenues but, to be safe, Deloitte’s Zoe Burton suggests the need to concentrate on resilient strategies. For instance, the structure of commercial rights and brand partnerships will become increasingly central in the drive to grow revenue.
Improved income for the top women’s football clubs will benefit women’s football from the top down. Increasing interest can propel investments, player wages, and initiatives for new female players.
The future of football finances looks bright, especially with considerable growth across the English Premier League (finance raising from the likes of Qatar and Saudi Arabia also) and global women’s football in 2021/22. However, Brian Murphy agrees with experts from the Deloitte accountancy firm: Significant changes to football finances are necessary for longer-term sustainability and civil recovery proceedings.
Brian Murphy Accountant
Marketing is very closely integrated with football today (and no place more prevalent that with the English Premier League) with everything from sponsorships, betting companies, and official merchandise. Brian Murphy is a marketing and finance expert and the key managing partner at a Scottsdale-based chartered accountants who have assisted numerous companies with corporate finance, marketing, strategic direction, and cost rationalisation initiatives. As an Arizona-based accountant, Brian specializes with expertise in sales, income, franchise, and forensic accounting. Brian brings help to help worldwide reach new commercial heights by looking at Deloitte trend reports and financial insight.