A brief pause from Walter’s series on football referees, following our coverage on the BBC web site (see the home page for the latest). Here’s a piece on Deloitte’s latest figure fest.
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Victory Through Harmony
by Tony Attwood
For some reason the regular table of football club turnover by Deloitte is known in the popular press as the “Rich List”. It is nothing of the kind. It measures turnover – the money coming into the club. As Manchester United show us every second of the day, if the money going out is greater, then big turnovers don’t really count for much.
It’s also a bit of a dead beat list in that it doesn’t change much. The top six are all the same as last year and no one has moved in or out of the top 10. Here’s the top 10
Revenue figures taken from 2009-10 (previous season’s positions in brackets):
1. (1) Real Madrid £438.6m
2. (2) Barcelona £398.1m
3. (3) Manchester United £349.8m
4. (4) Bayern Munich £323.0m
5. (5) Arsenal £274.1m
6. (6) Chelsea £255.9m
7. (10) Milan £235.8m
8. (7) Liverpool £225.3m
9. (9) Internazionale £224.8m
10. (8) Juventus £205.0m
You need a big factor to make a change in position here; Real Mad have been top for six years. The only things that might change that would be a reversion to sharing of TV fees in Spain as per England, or the £25m a year bail out money that Barca have got from Qatar for their “sacred” shirts.
Actually that deal is a bit of a clue as to what is going at Barca. The “sacred” shirt which could never have sponsorship has now been sold – not that long after the club’s finances were in such a terrible state that the club could not even pay its players on time in June last year.
According to the latest Uefa figures (2009), the upper echelon of clubs across Europe saw revenue grow by 4.8%. But, and this is the killer, costs rose by9.3%. Cumulative losses were €1.2bn – double the previous level.
56% of the 733 clubs that had an audit done by Uefa suffered a loss. Chelsea’s latest overall loss was £71m, Manchester United’s was £79.6m – so they are still at it neck and neck. Following the June financial fiasco Barcelona’s finances were audited to show they have a cumulative debt of €442m with a year’s loss of more than €77m last season. So with a little more insane spending Barca could make it up to the top with the big boys. 14 of the 20 EPL clubs made a loss in their most recent accounts.
The abilities of the biggest clubs to generate more revenue than their rivals will become increasingly important as Uefa’s financial fair play rules, and of course that money is based on “more of the same please”. Any change to the finance model could bring everything tumbling down. The challenge by the European Court to the country-by-country approach to selling TV rights could well undermine Sky’s position, which then could reduce the income the league gets from its product on TV, and that brings a loss making club tumbling down.
But, against all my hopes, yet in keeping with my fears, clubs like Barca, Chelsea and Man City have watered down the financial fair play rules and Uefa have given in. Now owners can put €45m into the club over the first two‑year period. Another rule says that wage bills of players who joined a club before last June can be discounted if it is that which means the club miss the cut. At the moment the concession is for two years, but with clubs like those above unlikely to be able to qualify even in two years, even with the concessions, it is not looking good for the long term survival of financial fair play.
In one regard Barca, Man City and Chelsea hold the aces. They can say to Uefa, if you don’t let us in, we’ll go off and form our own league – and they would find many other loss making clubs ready to join them. Uefa don’t want that, so they water down the regs.
Here’s part two of the poverty list
11. (20) Manchester City £152.8m
12. (15) Tottenham Hotspur £146.3m
13. (11) Hamburg £146.2m
14. (13) Lyons £146.1m
15. (14) Marseilles £141.1m
16. (16) Schalke 04 £139.8m
17. (18) Atletico Madrid £124.5m
18. (12) Roma £122.7m
19. (n/a) Stuttgart £114.8m
20. (n/a) Aston Villa £109.4m
So Tottenham remain about £130m behind Arsenal – a figure that even an extended stadium would not really make up. They also seem to be in the special group of clubs who like to waste money on stadium projects that never happen. Liverpool have done it (they are now looking at redeveloping their ground), Everton did it (a feat that included an incredible public attack on the notion of representative democracy in local government, while they were still waiting for the results of their submission from those self-same people who they were attacking) and now Tottenham are at it.
As I write it seems that the Tiny Totts are not going to get their bulldozers on the Olympic Stadium (the Olympic ideal having been to give the stadium to a company run by pornographers). You would think that they would have then gone back to plan A on which they have spent so much dosh (the doing up of the rather run down bit of real estate at 748 Tottenham High Road) but no. It seems that they have decided that they don’t want that one either, for reasons that will not become clear at this time. Latest news is that they are looking at property on the Isle of Dogs. (Or is that Newcastle?)
Anyway, the Deloittes list is pretty much as ever was. Most clubs are losing money, Uefa has backed down, the rich are getting poorer, and no one has any sort of solution apart from selling their shirt.
Business as usual then.
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