Premier League football scores record £4.8bn revenues

With the football season set to end with a tense run-in over the next two weeks, the revenue at Premier League clubs hit a record £4.8bn last season, but profitability was dampened by rising player wage bills

The combined revenue for the 20 Premier League clubs for 2017/18 rose 6% compared with the £4.6bn recorded the previous year, according to Deloitte’s sports business group.

The analysis shows wage costs increased by 15% year-on-year to £2.9bn, resulting in combined operating profits of £0.9bn, a 16% fall compared to £1bn in 2016/17. Clubs generated pre-tax profits of £0.4bn, falling from the record £0.5bn set in 2016/17.

The increase in revenue is in part attributable to the Premier League having a record five teams competing in the UEFA Champions League and Europa Cups last year, all reaching the round of 16 or beyond, resulting in a substantial increase of some £71m in UEFA Champions League distributions to Premier League clubs.

Alongside the increase in UEFA distributions, matchday and commercial revenue both grew by 8% and 12% respectively.

Dan Jones, partner and head of the sports business group at Deloitte, said: ‘Premier League clubs’ revenues continued to reach new heights in 2017/18.

‘Tottenham Hotspur’s relocation to Wembley Stadium and increased commercial activity, including the commencement of their new kit deal with Nike, contributed more than half of the Premier League’s matchday revenue growth and almost a quarter of the Premier League’s commercial revenue growth respectively, driving the club’s record levels of pre-tax profitability.’

However, the Premier League’s wages/revenue ratio increased to 59% in 2017/18, rising from the previous season’s ratio of 55%, which was a 19-year low owing to the increased broadcast revenues at the start of the current broadcast rights cycle.

Almost half of Premier League clubs recorded a wages/revenue ratio of 70% or greater, with overall wage spend increasing 15% to £2.9bn. This had a direct impact on clubs’ collective operating profitability.

Jones said: ‘We have seen clubs’ wage expenditure increase at a faster rate than revenue growth in 2017/18.

‘This is the same pattern as observed in the second year of the previous Premier League broadcast rights cycles, as clubs continue to invest in playing talent. 59% is the lowest wages/revenue ratio outside the first year of a broadcast rights cycle since the 1998/99 season.’

Premier League clubs made a collective pre-tax profit for the fourth time in the last five years, again the second highest profit in history, with three clubs - Arsenal, Liverpool and Spurs - contributing over 75% of this total.

On the downside more clubs reported a pre-tax loss and the divide between the top six clubs and the rest of the division is becoming more marked.

 

2017/18 revenue £bn

2016/17 revenue £bn

Revenue

4.8

4.6

Wage costs

-2.9

-2.5

Other operating costs

-1.1

-1

Operating profit/(loss)

0.9

1

Net player trading

-0.3

-0.4

Other costs/income

-0.1

-0.1

Profit/(loss) before tax

0.4

0.5

Source: Deloitte www.deloitte.co.uk/sportsbusinessgroup

Tim Bridge, director in the sports business group at Deloitte, said: ‘The increased wage expenditure was expected given the busy transfer market in the 2017/18 season, with two record transfer windows driving estimated Premier League gross spend of £1.9bn.

‘However, with the total value of Premier League broadcast rights expected to only marginally increase in the 2019/20-2021/22 broadcast rights cycle, increases in wage and transfer expenditure may be expected to slow in the medium term, as already signalled by the reduced estimated £1.4bn gross transfer spend in the current season.

‘With the emphasis now on clubs to generate revenue growth from sources other than central broadcast distributions, it may be that we see the levels of pre-tax profit diminish over the next few years.’

The next edition of the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance will be published in May/June 2019, shortly after the end of the 2018/19 season, and will include more in-depth analysis including financial analysis on a club by club basis. 

Pat Sweet

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