The future of football: can the growth go on forever?

By Tony Attwood

The new figures from Deloitte are out concerning the evolution of footballing income, and when one looks at the figures it is the growth in the gap between the Premier League and the rest of the top leagues in terms of income that is so staggering.

This table is in millions of euros the final column showing the percentage growth from 1996/7 to 2017/18.

Country 1996/7 2005/06 2012/13 2017/18 Growth
England 685 1995 2946 5080  741%
Italy 551 1277 1677 1980  359%
Germany 444 1195 2018 3200  720%
Spain 524 1158 1868 2990  570%
France 323 910 1297 1750  541%

England’s teams get a double bonus with this set of figures.  England has had the biggest growth AND started from the highest position, so both issues give them a benefit.  Put another way the gap of broadcasting money between England, for example, and Germany has grown across this 21 year period from 241 million euros in 1996/7 to 1.8 billion euros in 2017/18.

In response Germany has found two ways to retain some degree of credibility.

First by having one team that wins the league most seasons (Bayern Munich obviously) most resources get put into Bayern’s hands so they can counter the mega-rich clubs of England.

Second, by having much lower admission prices than in England, they keep their stadia full, and that generates further interest within the country, even though there is very little competition for the important prizes.

In addition Germany has been aided by the fact that it, like most countries, has many more qualified coaches per head of population. When I did the original piece on Untold on this subject  UEFA stats said there were only 2,769 English coaches holding the three top coaching qualifications. Spain has produced 23,995, Italy 29,420, Germany 34,970.

So interest in football in these countries is maintained by having a comparatively successful international team and/or much cheaper admission to top division football than we have in England.


In the table that follows from Deloittes the figures are in millions of pounds and what I want to try and explore is opportunity to grow and vulnerability to decline, given that the gap between England and the rest is continuing to grow.

Here are the incomes from various sources…  Figures in brackets show the clubs’ positions in that particular table.

Club Match day Broadcasting Commercial
Man U 107 (3) 194 (5) 352 (1)
Real Madrid 117 (2) 203 (1) 259 (3)
Barcelona 118 (1) 185 254 (4)
Bayern Munich 84 (5) 126 295 (2)
Manchester City 52 203 (1) 198 (6)
Arsenal 100 (4) 202 (3) 117 (10)
PSG 77 105 235 (5)
Chelsea 66 162 140 (7)
Liverpool 69 157 139 (8)
Juventus 50 201 (4) 98
Tottenham 45 188 72
Borussia Dortmund 50 108 127 (9)
Atlético Madrid 35 138 61
Leicester City 16 191 (6) 25

Match day incomes used to be the great variables, since crowds could and would decline dramatically if the supporters felt that the club was not doing well.  But these days with the crowd levels fairly stable the only thing that changes matters here is the expansion of the ground.  Manchester City did this by opening a new tier, and Tottenham are about to do this by opening a new stadium.

However Man City had the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi pay for their ground.  Chelsea, when their ground is finally developed will have a billionaire pay (as long as Russia hasn’t declared cyber war on us before then) but Tottenham are raising the money through the banks, as Arsenal did.

Thus while Man City’s income has grown, Tottenham could go through a period of financial restriction even with a much greater income, as Arsenal did.

Broadcasting income is a matter that follows the club’s success – the more the club is broadcast around the world the more money obviously flows in.  But it is not just success that dominates this income, for historic support also has a lot to do with this too.  Although Leicester will have gained some support worldwide after winning the league, they probably won’t have developed much support that will last over time, unless they can win some more trophies.  Therefore this income will decline.

On the other hand clubs like Manchester United can retain their worldwide popularity no matter what simply because the fan base is so large and so widespread.

As a result broadcasting income is fairly stable – except where a team comes out of nowhere to win the league.  Then schedules are ripped up and that team (in this case Leicester) suddenly get coverage beyond anything they have know.

Arsenal were 7th in broadcasting revenue income in 2015 now they are third leapfrogging Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Man U.  Which presumably has come on the back of winning the FA Cup a record number of times.

Commercial income is less volatile in general although of course it goes up in successful seasons as new younger fans emerge and buy the shirt.

However commercial income is the great opportunity both worldwide and in terms of sponsorship at home, and the fact is that Arsenal started from a very low base, because of the anti-commercialisation attitude of the board across decades.  This included banning radio broadcasting from Highbury, refusing to run advertisements in the club programme or around the ground even when the club was struggling for funds, talk of winding up the youth teams, and as a result refusing to up players’ wages after the club had had success on the pitch in the 1970s, a decline on the pitch,

The move to the Emirates opened up new opportunities, and the process of undoing the years of the notion of not wanting to deal with “that sort of person” is long, slow and painful, but each year Arsenal seems to make a bit more progress in the commercial world.

And if the club is going to be behind the leaders in one of the three areas (match day, broadcasting and commercial) commercial is the one it is best to be behind in, because it is the option with the most possibilities for growth.  By comparison, there is no way Leicester are going to be able to maintain their broadcast income, and no way they are going to be able up their matchday and commercial income (remembering they are already under investigation over their supposed commercial income from sponsorship).

So Arsenal are up one place on a year ago, and I would expect them to be up again next year with more commercial revenue.  Of course none of that means that the club will win the league, but it must help.

Recent Posts

19 Replies to “The future of football: can the growth go on forever?”

  1. Tony

    I am far from sure that your comment that Broadcasting Revenue is stable is correct.

    Broadcasting income includes CL money.

    Last season Arsenal made €59 million whereas Man Utd made around €14 million for winning the EL and indeed Chelsea made nothing from European football

    The top 6 clubs are getting far more interested in how the PL broadcasting monies are distributed and as we have already been old there are issues around how the overseas money is distributed and it’s that particular issue that is worth following

  2. OT-what did everyone think of the Sanchez unveiling vid that ManUre did? Personally I thought it was creepy and with the horrbile influence of Leni Reefensteel, and had to throw up in the kasi afterwards. That guy could well be the spanner in the worls for ManUre?
    Sure hope the Mhk does the biz for us, and that Wengerball is back with a nice Lac(cca) finish to give it some shine.

  3. @Kenneth – poor Alexis. He thinks he’s going to play the piano but it is more likely he’ll have to carry it!

  4. Josif-LOL! I thought he didnt fake it very well-Red Garland he isnt! Apparently the short film has been nominated for the Golden Rasperberry award.
    Im waiting for when he loses his temper with Pogba…

  5. Have you not got anything to say about our best forward leaving for man utd?

    How do you feel? Angry? Happy? Indifferent? Slightly miffed?

    What about the aubemeyang transfer? Any thoughts on that?

  6. Of course but I am not sure you have gathered the significance of the blog’s name. It is Untold. I try not to repeat what others have said. Don’t always succeed in that aim, but I try.

  7. For me, the aubemeyang signing is important.
    In recent years we would have just soldiered on or replaced sanchez with a lesser signing.
    I don’t know how good aubemeyang is, but arsenal reacting in this way is encouraging.

  8. As long as the EPL maintains it’s mammoth domestic following and epic global appeal, I can’t see it’s financial earnings power dismissing up to the extend of falling behind it’s rival top Europe Leagues financial earnings power. More so if the EPL continues to be the leader that it is in club and world football that is ever evolutionary and ever evolving and dynamic. But in relating to my last sentence, the PGMO officials will do themselves and the followers of the EPL a big favour to eschew anything that’ll make them being suspected of match fixing in the Pl games but embrace the use of the VAR in the PL wholeheartedly. For, right now, some of the PGMO referees referring decisions in the PL games are increasingly looking like frauds that is making teams to lose points they should have collected.

    If Rafael Nadal had not reacted negatively to the crying of the baby in the stands which led to the parents taking the baby out of the arena. But the spirit of the baby looked to have caused bad luck for Nadal as it fought him back making him to lose his quaterfinal men single match against Cilic in the ongoing Australian open tennis grand slam tournament. But would Nadal have not lost the match if he hadn’t reacted negatively to the crying of the baby in the stands that led to the the parents taking it out of the arena? My superstitions tell me Yes.

  9. Ken I wanted to say, but you nailed it! And Jo, you are right! If you look into it and the interview he gave, you get an inclination of why I was worried about Alexis. It’s all very ugly, RVP was just what it was, made too much sense. Wenger lost a son, but it was empty nest, it was time, in the context of wider issues.

    Henry nobody could ask him to stay with the team falling apart around him and it was a shame that move might have influenced his finishing in the CL final against……

    Buy this Alexis move is all wrong, but I can’t see it affecting us, but taking a toll on the United Manager, Swuad and new signing.

    Football will experience a near exponential growth. The distribution of wealth has to be adddressed. The money is going to kill the big squads otherwise. Players just won’t get out of bed, when they make a million a week. Broadcasting revenues are stable income, bigger teams have to get more, because they atteact larger audiences. The differential needs addressing. And clubs being forced to offset revenue by community based work in terms of player and grass roots development, which would get us a better national team.

  10. Tony can you contact RBKC and ask why Untold is blocked on street wifi! Electronic receipt.

    Can you also issue them a freedom of information request re their policy for wifi and securing it, including the outsourcing of virgin media, the cost and then make a SAR on behalf of the site.

    If it’s not too taxing, otherwise delegate. M laptop is still held by Richmond council,

  11. Is Sanchez leaving really that big a deal ?

    I mean, in Mkhitaryan Arsenal have A player who REALLY wants to play for them.

    Were as in Sanchez United have a player who REALLY wants to play for City

  12. I havent checked the club website tonight, but is there any evidence of a sincere goodbye from the club to Sanchez-there wasnt earlier?
    I also noticed by checking more than a few- but not all, that the players had also not said any form of goodbye like they did to Theo and Le Coq…

  13. It’s plain, Alexis has made a horrible life choice over money, but if the money is for what I think it is, then, he may have made an ultimate sacrifice.

    As I said I do not appreciate the singular comment, but it was all very professional.

    He basically said in interview, it was money and Jose making those promises he always makes.

    The fact is, they are going to implode because of this transfer. Every rotation, will upset the player left out, the more Jose rotates him the unhappier he makes his squad and then Alexis says, I want to play LWF, Jose either accommodates or gets fired, because of the wages.

    Also whoever Jose says isn’t good enough, goes completely world class!

    And as all the fans are screaming, now Aubameyang!!!!

    City want Laporte, Laporte should want Verane, perfect for club and country, with sun over mancunians!

    I want to know how much cash we got, the absence of the denial of a few or a figure, denotes we got paid.

    Everywhere including transfermarkt are stumped, they just said £36m each and value Mikhi at £36m with Alexis now £60m.

    If form equals value, I think that might be reversed in 3 months.

    Apparently Mikhi did nothing to reward starting under Jose, not 6 goals including the winner last years EL Final.

    All the omens are good!

  14. Nitram… may have hit the nail on the head but I think Sanchez will play as best he can for the anointed one, however he will look to get to City eventually.

  15. City won’t match that wage, the deal was he honoured his contract and moves on a free and got more wages. Knee jerked; over!

    Just weeks after Sky is sold to Disney, the CMA announce that the Sky bid is rejected, due to force of influence, after the group essentially rigged a general election and a referendum.

    Which came first, the chicken; or the egg.

    Sky threaten to close news atm to make the move go ahead, whilst the CMA propose ring fence from allowing the Murdoch’s direct influence.

    The only news outlets which would have boasted a stronger influence over media even after that deal were the BBC and ITV.

    Both of which were formerly run by the former C4 director who stepped down late last year.

    BBC run seceral Conservative support broadcast including the Politcs and Sunday Politics Show, on which Laura Kuenesberg recently and likely intentionally stayed (which later ran on the BBC main News Channel, Poliics Channel and BBC news “there was no way out of Brexit”.

    The Saga continues, football and politics, nothing to do with one another, let alone th former being a marker and reflection of the former.

    In the wake of the recent White House funding bill rejection and potential Subpoena for key White House Officials. A beacon of hope remains.

    Guy Fawkes, thought a pen (laptop) might be of more use .

  16. Welbeck is apparently ruled out of Cup clash through injury with Ramsey and Monrea facing late fitness tests. Which puts chuba firmly in the frame for primetime on the bench, with Mikhi cup-tied, in what USB fast becoming a must win fixture for both clubs.

    Meanwhile Spurs go up to 11th in doilette world club rich list with Arsenal movingly above PSG even after a slump in revenue due to missing CL football for the first time in 2 decades.

    Spurs recent jump is in some (significant) part attributed to the temporary move to the 90,000 seater Wembley, with the club paying a share of match day earnings to the state.

    Next up Chelsea.

    Arsenal move into that territory of giants, lying in 6th, behind United, Real, Bayern, Barcelona and City respectively.

    Time to go Supernova!

  17. Alexis was not our best player. He was the hardest worker. Our best player is probably Ozil followed by Monreal. Monreal is consistent & works the flank well covers the middle when he has to & does a good job in attack.

    Ozil is just a class above the rest. Unseen as most times he glides into position and makes a good pass. He defends well but is not acknowledged for his good work. Our CBs are also good hard workers but have to cope with a sloping pitch that puts them under undue pressure.

    I would still rather see Arsenal play than most other EPL clubs because of the intricacy of some of the football. If this were magnified it would then be totally the best. It might just happen now that the team will have more effective players.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *