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Football clubs score record £8.8bn revenue

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 26 Jan 2024

Global football netted remarkable returns in 2022/23, according to Deloitte’s annual survey, with a surge in matchday and commercial revenues sweeping across Europe.
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The global football landscape witnessed unprecedented financial success in the 2022/23 season, with the 20 highest revenue-generating clubs collectively amassing a staggering €10.5bn (£8.8bn), a notable 14% increase from the previous year.

The 27th edition of the Football Money League, an annual survey produced by Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, sheds light on the remarkable growth driven by record commercial and matchday revenues of €4.4bn (£3.8bn) and €1.9bn (£1.6bn), respectively.

The surge in matchday revenues was propelled by heightened fan demand for live sports, coinciding with Stadia returning to full capacity across continental Europe during the 2022/23 season.

Real Madrid reclaimed its position as the highest revenue-generating football club for the first time since the 2017/18 season, reporting a record revenue of €831m (£710m). The club’s resurgence is attributed to robust retail performance, increased stadium attendance and the recovery of sponsorship income following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite a record-breaking season, Manchester City fell to second place with revenues of €826m (£706m), followed by Paris Saint-Germain at €802m (£685m), FC Barcelona at €800m (£684m) and Manchester United at €746m (£638m).

Commercial revenue dominates

In a noteworthy shift, commercial revenue emerged as the primary income stream for Money League clubs, surpassing broadcast revenues for the first time since the 2015/16 season (excluding the COVID-19-impacted 2019/20 season).

Seventeen of the top 20 clubs reported year-on-year growth in commercial revenue, attributed to improved retail sales, non-matchday events and the recovery of sponsorship income affected by the pandemic.

While broadcast revenues experienced a modest 5% growth, commercial and broadcast revenues contributed substantially to the average total revenue of more than €500m reported by Money League clubs. Commercial and broadcast revenues made up 42% and 40% of that total respectively, with matchday revenue accounting for 18% or €92m (£79m).

Tim Bridge, lead partner in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, emphasised the ongoing financial might of the football industry to reach another record-breaking year, saying: “A high demand for live sport is pointing towards further growth for commercial and matchday revenues, in particular.” 

Bridge adds: “As clubs appear to no longer be able to rely on exponential broadcast revenue growth, creating a more commercially focused business model will support them to achieve greater control over their financial stability. This may include developing new merchandise, or non-match day events such as concerts to create new commercial offerings.”

European clubs reshape rankings

Notable shifts occurred between positions 11-20 in the rankings, with continental European teams such as Eintracht Frankfurt, SCC Napoli and Olympique de Marseille replacing English clubs.

Bridge anticipates European clubs diversifying revenues to gain more control over their total revenue, offering protection against on-pitch performance variations and broader macroeconomic challenges.

Kieran Maguire, ACA-qualified chartered accountant and co-host of ‘The Price of Football’ podcast, says that despite a slight drop in the number of Premier League clubs in the Deloitte Top 20 of the Money League, it remains dominant with eight clubs featured.

Maguire comments: “A lot of focus will be on changes to revenue, but of greater concern are the ongoing issues in respect of cost control, of the lack thereof, especially in relation to player recruitment and retention.”

Domestic revenues are likely to flatline unless clubs can expand their stadiums, with resistance to ticket price rises and recently-signed broadcast deals showing no sign of growth, Maguire says. “Therefore, expect clubs to become more innovative, turning their real estate assets away from ones that are used 25-30 days a year into multi-function, multi-purpose assets, such as Spurs with the new White Hart Lane, used for concerts, NFL, go-karting and many other activities.” 

Women’s clubs showcase strong financial growth

Deloitte’s analysis of women’s football reveals substantial financial growth in the 2022/23 season. FC Barcelona Femení led with €13.4m (£11.4m) in revenue, reflecting a remarkable 74% year-on-year increase. Manchester United Women and Real Madrid Femenino secured the second and third positions with €8m (£6.8m) and €7.4m (£6.3m), respectively.

The findings underscored significant diversity in revenue generation methods among women’s clubs, emphasising the need for innovative approaches. Amy Clarke, Women’s Sport Lead in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, says: “A rise in the number of women's matches playing at clubs’ main stadia boosted matchday revenues, while increased viewership and individual partnerships helped to accelerate the commercialisation of the game.” 

Clarke believes that women’s football is beginning to tell the tale of growth, “but that growth is not confined by a single business model. Each club is exploring its own unique way to maximise revenues within the current structure of the game. 

“Given that the women’s game within the mainstream is at a formative stage, there is a real opportunity to define the sport globally through innovative thinking across all aspects of the game, including player welfare, commercial relationships, governance and business models.”

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