Financial story

The following visualisations should help you understand the recent financial story of European football.

We start with Europe as a whole, which in the report is the 700+ clubs in the 54 top divisions.

We document the unparalleled growth success of European club football, where the money comes from, who, where and how big the largest clubs are, the dire financial losses that clubs generated at the turn of the decade and the improvements made to the financial credibility of club football in the most recent years.

More interactive detail is then provided in the financial and sporting landscape sections of this digital report.

Let's begin

Football club revenues have increased for 20 consecutive years now reaching almost €17bn in Europe’s top tier leagues

Club revenues are now more than double the level of 2004 and almost six times the level of 1996.

European club revenues have grown every year over the last two decades at an average growth rate of 9.3%.

The achievement of this level and consistency of long-term revenue growth is extraordinary, especially given that this is a mature activity, with many leagues dating back more than a century. It is testament to the increasing interest in and health of European football.

So how are they generating this income?

The incomes come from six main sources, which we call revenue streams

In European football, just over a third (34%) of income comes from TV contracts for domestic football (leagues and cups). Another third comes from Sponsorship and Commercial revenues. The final third comes from UEFA competitions (9%), Gate receipts (16%) and Other sources which can mean various things like donations and grants.

So which clubs generate most of this money?

The map shows the location of the 30 biggest clubs (by revenue) in the world

In total there are now 46 clubs with more than €100m of revenue. The top 30 are included on the map, with colour indicating size.

The map highlights the geographical concentration of clubs with the west of Germany, north of italy and all England featuring heavily.

These 30 clubs generated over €8.2bn in revenues in FY15, representing 49% of European top-division club revenues. The shape of the chart shows revenues and spending power are relatively well matched until the gaps increase from the top 12 clubs.

These are the biggest clubs. How big are the gaps between them?

The worm chart highlights the top 30 clubs by revenue

The shape of the chart illustrates the relative size of revenues (and spending power).

Spread of 1.6x between clubs 30 to 13.

There is a relatively large jump between club 13 (FC Shalke 04) and club 9 (Liverpool FC) with a spread of 1.8x.

The relative spread between club 9 (Liverpool FC) and club 1 (Real Madrid) is only 1.5x.

Increased revenue is nice but aren't football clubs all making losses?

Club income might have multiplied 6 times in 20 years but wages multiplied more than 7 times

With players, after the Bosman ruling, able to leave clubs at the end of their contract without a transfer fee, clubs readily signed contract extensions, committing themselves to higher and higher wages.

This unprecedented level of wage inflation was often compared to a type of “arms race”, with no rules or regulations limiting over spending.

How big were the losses and what was the response?

In addition the three years before Financial Fair Play, clubs together generated net losses of €4,500,000,000.

The incidences of clubs not paying players, staff, tax authorities and transfer fees was also creating stress in the system. Clubs playing in UEFA competitions had unpaid debts of €57m. Club bankruptcies across Europe were on the rise. The deteriorating situation could not continue.

In 2009 clubs, leagues and player unions all supported decisive action from UEFA to introduce a financial control and monitoring system, called Financial Fair Play (FFP). Clubs compete across borders so it needed UEFA to create and run the system. Contrary to the perceived wisdom this was about rebalancing the excesses and not an attempt to 'make clubs more equal'. This was introduced in phases with the main break-even requirements kicking in from 2012.

How big were the losses and what was the response?

The charts demonstrate the scale of the turn around

Overdue debts have tumbled as clubs are faced with serious and quick sanctions.

Clubs have cut there net losses dramatically from €1.7 bn a year to just over €300 m in 2015. A more than 80% decrease.

The successes so far mean discussions continue as to how further improvements can be made.

Behind the headline financial stories there are many details.