Commercial Revenues Drive Growth at Top European Football Clubs

Top European football clubs are growing operating revenues primarily by expanding their commercial activities, despite growing staff costs, according to a new report by KPMG’s Football Benchmark team.

“Football is undergoing an important phase of change from a business point of view. Top clubs are moving towards an entertainment company model, transforming football organisations into real global brands, capable of attracting audiences from all over the world.” Andrea Sartori, KPMG’s Global Head of Sports, and leader of KPMG’s Football Benchmark team, commented.

The European Champions Report 2019 reviews and compares some of the most relevant business performance indicators of the champions of Europe’s eight most prominent leagues in the 2017/18 season – FC Barcelona, FC Bayern München, FC Porto, Galatasaray SK, Juventus FC, Manchester City FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC and PSV Eindhoven.

Growing revenues

The report found that six of the eight football clubs recorded increased operating revenues. The exceptions were Juventus and PSV Eindhoven. Juventus’ revenues dropped slightly by 2%, mainly due to a less successful UEFA Champions League campaign, where they were knocked-out at the quarter-finals against the eventual winners, Real Madrid. PSV Eindhoven suffered a bigger blow, a 28% drop in revenues, due, again, mainly to their failure to participate in the final stage of a European competition.

Galatasaray showed the highest operating revenue year-on-year increase (+19%), due mainly to a new, improved domestic TV deal and better on-pitch performance, resulting in doubling attendance and a 63% growth in match day revenues.

Commercial growth represents the source of revenue with the highest impact on total turnover for six of the eight European champions. Bayern München was the most successful at growing their commercial revenue, reaching EUR 316 million. The exceptions were Juventus and Porto. Interestingly though, while broadcasting remained the main source of income for the Italian and the Portuguese champions, the significance of their commercial revenue stream is growing rapidly at both clubs, as they registered the highest year-on-year growth in their commercial income (+21% and +43%, respectively).

The report also reveals that clubs that represent a league with limited international appeal and a smaller local broadcasting market rely more on the prize money of major UEFA tournaments, especially the Champions League. For them, continuous participation in these competitions is a key factor in increasing their revenue stream in the short to medium term.

“Our analysis highlights the prominence that commercial expansion is gaining: while match day income is affected by stadium capacity and broadcasting income by multi-year deals, proper management decisions and solid international commercial expansion strategies, supported by adequate sporting performance, can help grow markets around the globe.”Sartori commented.

Growing expenses

Increases in costs is another trend. The majority of the clubs suffered an increase in staff costs, the main expense for a football club. The historic transfer of Brazilian striker Neymar from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for EUR 222 million, and the ’domino effect’ it caused with Barcelona acquiring Dembélé and Coutinho as replacements, were some of the main contributors to staff cost increases for these two clubs. Indeed, Barcelona registered EUR 562 million, which is also the highest increase year-on-year (+42%), while PSG reached EUR 332 million (an increase of + 20%).

The impact of growing personnel costs is also shown in the staff costs/operating revenues ratio figures, which increased for all of the clubs, except for Manchester City. Barcelona, with 81%, registered the highest ratio (a 19% year on year increase), while Bayern München had the lowest ratio (51%) among these clubs. In this aspect, three clubs exceeded the 70% threshold, a parameter monitored by UEFA (Barcelona 81%, Porto 80% and Galatasaray 71%). Also, five clubs out of the eight obtained a positive after-tax result in the 2017/18 season, with three clubs, Galatasaray, Juventus and Porto registering after-tax loss.

The true assets

Football players represent the core asset for football clubs and their transfers continuously grab the headlines, as clubs fight to secure the best talents. KPMG’s report also provides information on the eight European champions’ squads’ market value, based on KPMG’s proprietary Player Valuation Tool, which estimates the market value of players as at 1 January 2019. Manchester City possess the most valuable team (EUR 1,182 million), while at a single player level, Neymar is the most valuable football player (EUR 229 million), followed by Kylian Mbappé (EUR 215 million) and Lionel Messi (EUR 203 million).