Premier League revenues to rise by 25%, says Deloitte

By Bill Wilson
Business reporter, BBC News

image captionThe rise in Premier League revenues was mainly down to sponsorship deals signed by the two Manchester clubs

Premier League clubs' revenue reached a record £2.36bn in 2011-12, according to football finance experts at Deloitte.

It estimates revenue grew to £2.5bn in 2012-13, and will grow by a further £600m, or 25%, in 2013-14, when the league's new broadcast deal kicks in.

Deloitte says this should take the projected revenue of Premier League clubs above £3bn for the first time.

It says this cash, plus new spending rules, "could provide huge benefits to the long-term development" of football.

"Despite operating in a challenging economic environment, English club football's profile, exposure and increasingly global interest have continued to drive revenue growth for the top clubs," said Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte.

Across English football, the revenue of the top 92 clubs exceeded £3bn for the first time in 2011-12.

However, worries remain about the proportion of revenues being spent on player wages.

Almost 75% of the Premier League clubs' revenue increase in 2011-12 was spent on wages, which increased by £64m, or 4%, to £1.7bn. It meant the overall Premier League wages-to-revenue ratio remained at 70%.

"It is the age-old picture; revenues continue to be healthy and wage levels continue to be a concern," said Mr Jones.

In the second tier of English Football - the Championship - spending on wages increased by £53m (13%) to £476m in 2011-12. Deloitte says this was driven in part by the number of clubs being in receipt of parachute payments from the Premier League and the change in the mix of clubs.

"Championship clubs continue to overstretch off the field as they seek playing success to reach the Premier League," Mr Jones said.

In the summer of 2012, the Premier League clubs had a total debt of £2.4bn.

media captionDan Jones, from Deloitte, says rising revenues will provide "a great opportunity for clubs"

Of that, some £1.4bn was in interest-free soft loans from owners (2011: £1.5bn), of which around 90% related to three clubs: Chelsea (£895m), Newcastle United (£267m) and Queens Park Rangers (£93m).

The remaining £1bn interest-bearing debt was equivalent to about 40% of total annual revenues.

Mr Jones said that debt in the Premier League was much less of a concern than it was four or five years ago, adding, "when you look at how much of that is in soft loans, the interest-paying debt that is left is not that much".

Deloitte also said that a number of financial fair play rules, including those introduced by the Premier League and Championship (independently of those also drawn up by European governing body Uefa) should focus the minds of clubs in respect to overall spending.

Uefa's own break-even requirement, the cornerstone of its Financial Fair Play Regulations, will apply to clubs in its competitions for the first time in the 2013-14 season, and covers the clubs' financial results for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons.

"The new era of cost constraints aims to help clubs across Europe to achieve a more sustainable balance between their costs and revenues and encourages investment for the longer-term benefit of football," said Deloitte.

On the broadcasting landscape, Deloitte says the "step change" in the UK pay-TV market has been the emergence of BT Sport as a broadcaster of live 38 Premier League football from next season.

Mr Jones said BT was the "biggest beast" broadcaster Sky had yet faced and that "the scale and pace of the channel's success may have a huge impact on football's longer-term financial fortunes".

Outside of England, Deloitte said SPL clubs in Scotland had average revenues of about £12.7m each in 2011-12, with wages accounting for 68% of turnover. It said the revenue total of the top Scottish clubs would have been hit last season by Rangers' absence, but that a "creditable performance by Celtic in reaching the Champions League knock-out phase will soften this impact".

Deloitte also looked at the finances of the other leagues in the "Big Five" group with England - Germany, Spain, Italy and France.

In 2011-12, for the fifth successive year, the German Bundesliga joined the Premier League in being the only ones in the quintet to generate an operating profit.

And the relative strength of Germany's corporate sector and economy was reflected in the fact that money from commercial deals and sponsorship contributed almost half of the clubs' total revenues in 2011-12.

In Spain the combined wages to revenue ratios for Real Madrid and Barcelona fell to 47%, but rose to a worrying 77% for the other 18 La Liga clubs, many of whom have suffered recent financial difficulties.

Italy's Serie A clubs had the highest wages to revenue ratio (of 75%) amongst the five leagues, and suffered the highest operating losses (160m euros).

In France, the Ligue 1 clubs' operating loss of 67m euros was an improvement compared with the previous season.

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