Premier League club revenues rose by 12% to a record £5.5 billion ($6.96 billion) in the 2021-22 season as European football capitalised on fans returning to stadiums after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to analysis from Deloitte.
In its Annual Review of Football Finance, Deloitte’s Sports Business Group said the “big-five” leagues in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France had a combined 10% rise in revenues — with Spain’s LaLiga rising 11% to €3.3 billion ($3.57 billion) while France’s Ligue 1 shot up 26% to €2 billion.
Italy’s Serie A was the only league of the five to record a decrease in revenue, falling 7% to €2.4 billion.
Matchday revenue for the Premier League rose to £763m in 2021-22, far surpassing the 2020-21 season, large portions of which were played behind closed doors, as well as improving on pre-pandemic levels of £585m in the 2018-19 season.
“Topline figures show that European football has emerged resiliently from its most challenging period to date,” said Tim Bridge, lead partner in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group. “Following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions, fans’ demand gave rise to record matchday and commercial revenues across Europe.”
Despite rising revenues, operating profits in the big-five leagues has declined by €1.8 billion since the 2018-19 season, due in large part to a 15% rise in wage costs.
Clubs will have to adjust wage costs in future to adhere to UEFA’s new “sustainability regulations,” which were passed in 2022 and limit teams to spending no more than 70% of their revenue on their squads.
The regulations came into force in 2022. The 70% figure will be reached after a three-year transition period, gradually falling from 90%.
“The focus for all clubs must now shift to ensure long-term financial sustainability across the football system, and the introduction of new regulations across European football are appropriately timed to support this,” Bridge said.
“Record growth in the Premier League continues to increase revenue polarisation between and within European football leagues, and every league faces new challenges brought by increased competition, regulation and the strain of a challenging macroeconomic climate.”
In England, the combined net debt in the top flight decreased by 34% to £2.7bn in 2021-22 following the takeovers of Chelsea and Newcastle United.
Net debt also declined by £110m in the second-tier Championship, but wage costs exceeded revenues for the fifth straight year.
“The net debt of Championship clubs remains significant, with a vast number of clubs increasing their loans over the 2021-22 season,” Bridge said. “The glamour of Premier League promotion is spearheading the continual drive for investment in Championship clubs, often in an unsustainable manner, driving some clubs to overstretch financially.”