UEFA has released the 11th edition of the European Club Footballing Landscape report, its annual club licensing benchmarking report on European club football.
The latest report details that the 2018 financial year was the second consecutive year of overall profitability for European top-division club football – a significant turnaround compared with the €5bn of losses that were recorded in just three years at the turn of the decade before UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations were introduced.
In the foreword to the report, UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin said: “As financial performance has improved, clubs’ financial position has become significantly healthier, with net assets increasing from less than €2bn to more than €9bn in the space of a decade, a testament to the success of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, the stable European football ecosystem and sustained and sensible investment.”
This year’s report once again presents a panoramic picture of European football, and this year, for the first time, it includes a profile of women’s domestic football, as well as some initial findings from a wide-ranging study covering more than 900 club training facilities. This supplements the standard chapters on club ownership, stadium infrastructure, supporters, sponsorship, and league and cup competitions, as well as the usual detailed analysis of financial matters.
The report focuses on how the stable European football ecosystem, aided by sensible regulation, has helped club football to 20 consecutive years of revenue growth. In fact, top division European club revenues increased in total from €20bn to €21bn in 2018.
But it also points out that revenues continue to concentrate, with the share of revenues generated by ‘big 5’ leagues reaching a record high of 75%. Preliminary reporting from 2019 indicates that, for the first time, the top 30 clubs will be responsible for more than half of all top division club revenues. On the other side of equation, the wage bill of the 98 ‘big 5’ clubs increased by more than €1bn, representing 88% of all wage growth, and these clubs were responsible for 85% of gross transfer spending and 75% of top division transfer earnings.
Aleksander Ceferin said: “The report highlights a number of threats to continued European football stability and success. These include the risks of globalisation-fuelled revenue polarisation, of a fragmenting media landscape and of cases of overdependence on transfer activity revenue. The report also shows that European club football is strong, united and resilient, and I am certain that European football can and will overcome these challenges and others just as successfully as we dealt with the threat of spiralling losses in the recent past.”
Other key findings in the report include:
- Average domestic top division league attendances reached a record high in 2018/19 with 105 million spectators in total. Improving stadium infrastructure led to a healthy 8% increase in ticketing revenues.
- On the back of the exceptional TV-driven profits reported last year, wages increased at a faster rate (9.4%) in 2018. The wage growth was principally driven by clubs in the wealthiest leagues and the main KPI, the wages to revenue ratio, now stands at 64%.
- For the first time women’s football is joining men’s football under the UEFA club licensing regime. The base of women’s club football is expanding fast with 52 top-tier leagues comprising on average 9.3 clubs, compared to 12.3 clubs for the equivalent men’s leagues.
- 80% of clubs reported a major investment in training facilities over the last five years. These investments exceeded €1m for one in three of these clubs. Solidarity payments made as part of UEFA’s HatTrick programme are commonly mentioned as a source of funding when it comes to financing improvements.
- Football has a uniquely broad appeal, with only the retail (17%) and gambling (13%) sector adorning more than 10% of club shirts.
- European football increasingly has a wide international appeal with 150 foreign shirt sponsors including 36 Asian and 19 North American companies.