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.
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.
|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)|
|Borussia Dortmund||50||108||127 (9)|
|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.
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