Madrid, Feb 3 (EFE).- European clubs suffered losses in revenue of €7 billion due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons, but player salaries increased by an average of 2% per year, according to Uefa’s latest report on the soccer landscape.
The 13th edition of the report released on Thursday, compiled from data submitted by more than 700 professional clubs and analysis of accounts for 2021, reflects the impacts of Covid-19 on Uefa and its member associations’ national competitions, players and the state of the economy as a whole.
Despite the loss of revenue and reduced activity in the transfer market, overall player remuneration at top clubs has continued to increase by an average of 2% per year and is forecast to reach €11.9 billion in fiscal 2021.
The figures indicate that for the first time in the era of “Financial Fair Play”, whose rules were relaxed this year because of the devastating effects of the pandemic, top-flight clubs generated operating losses, which in 2021 amounted to €299 million, a margin of 2%, similar to 2020 (€256 million).
From reporting operating income of €906 million and a profit margin of 4% in 2019, clubs reported losses of more than €1 billion and a loss margin of 5% this year.
Transfer revenues also fell by more than 40%, due to the decreased activity and prices in the summer 2020, January 2021 and summer 2021 windows.
European clubs spent €3.8 billion on transfers in summer 2021, 41% below the pre-pandemic peak in summer 2019.
English teams accounted for approximately 27% of global transfer activity and players aged 23 and under accounted for 55% of total transfer spending in Europe’s 20 largest transfer markets, indicating an increased reliance by clubs on the value of younger players.
Nearly a third of clubs reported a severe loss margin of more than 30% of revenues in 2021, compared to 1 in 8 before the pandemic. The number of clubs reporting bottom line profits dropped from 58% in 2019 to just 25% last year.
In 2020/21 most of the losses – some €4.4 billion – were due to the almost total disappearance of revenue from ticket sales (88% less) from the closure of stadiums due to the pandemic, with a box office contribution of only 2% compared to 16% before Covid. This situation particularly affected clubs in the Netherlands, Scotland, Sweden and Switzerland.
While stadium and matchday revenues have been hit hard, the report points to an increase in revenue from major sponsors, up 6% between 2019 and 2020 and 7% in 2021.
The report stresses that there was also a growth in Uefa’s broadcasting rights revenue for clubs, estimated at 10.6% for the 2021/24 cycle compared to the 2018/21 period.
Faced with the current situation, Uefa highlighted the importance of the 11% increase in prize money in its competitions from 2021/22 and of solidarity payments for youth development to clubs that do not qualify for its competitions.
Countries outside the “Big 5” (Spain, England, Italy, France and Germany) with teams in the group stage are expected to receive an annual total of €133 million (a 62% increase) and countries without group stage participants are expected to receive €73 million annually. EFE