In the second edition of “The European Champions Report”, KPMG’s Football Benchmark team compares the financial performance of the domestic champions from 12 European leagues – AS Monaco FC, Besiktas JK, Celtic FC, Chelsea FC, FC Basel 1893, FC Bayern München, FC Spartak Moscow, FC Viitorul Constanta, Feyenoord Rotterdam, Juventus FC, Real Madrid CF and SL Benfica.
Andrea Sartori, KPMG’s Global Head of Sports and the report’s author, commented: “Football is a growing business, and the trend is confirmed by the fact that all the clubs but two (FC Bayern München and FC Basel 1893) increased their operating revenues year-on-year in local currency. Moreover, revenue generated from the top flight UEFA competition remains a key driver of growth, most prominently for mid-size clubs, as it impacts not only the broadcasting segment but also matchday (due to more fixtures played at home ground) and commercial (from sponsorship bonuses).”
After a surprising win of Ligue 1 and qualification up to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, AS Monaco FC make the headlines with an impressive 86% year-on-year growth in operating revenues. The French champions, with a budget of approximately one/fourth of domestic rivals Paris Saint-Germain FC, also showed the highest “UEFA-dependence” in our report, with 45% of their operating income coming from UEFA’s financial distribution. Celtic FC recorded the second highest year-on-year revenue growth (52%).
Real Madrid CF are unsurprisingly the European champions recording the highest operating revenues (EUR 671 million), however still slightly behind Manchester United FC which are not covered in our report (as they arrived fifth last year in the English Premier League). Los Blancos are followed by FC Bayern München (EUR 588 million), despite stagnation of the Rekordmeister’s revenues resulting from failing to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in six years.
Chelsea FC earned operating revenues of GBP 361.3 million (EUR 420 million ), a 9.8% year-on-year increase in local currency (4% decrease in EUR).
“In today’s football, as in many other sports, financial performance does not solely depend on the results of the competition. These are matched by commercial efforts and strategies in related areas, such as broadcasting rights, merchandising and loyalty through social media and digital marketing, or the development and management of a portfolio of intellectual property rights associated with the club and with its activities and products. In such a complex context, we believe that indigenous clubs also need to recalibrate their operational efforts in order to sustainably develop, diversify and exploit strategic skills intended to improve financial performance,” says Tudor Grecu, Audit Partner KPMG in Romania.
While positively impacting the key revenue streams, successful on-pitch performance also comes at a cost in the form of players’ bonuses. Interestingly, among major clubs, the highest staff cost to revenue ratio was recorded by Real Madrid (61%), Juventus FC (64%) and AS Monaco (69%), all conquering domestic league titles and reaching the UEFA Champions League final or semi-finals. In the case of Real Madrid CF this meant a 32% increase in the club’s staff costs, which at EUR 406 million represent the highest payroll in world football.
Andrea Sartori continued: “One of the main challenges affecting football clubs in recent years has concerned the sustainability of their business. Notwithstanding this, all European champions included in the report scored an after-tax profit; indeed, despite eye-catching transfer deals and spiralling staff costs, the industry is headed towards a direction where being profitable is not a chimera anymore. Moreover, in this scenario, clubs excelling at player development and trading are likely to have a competitive edge, three prime examples in this regard being Chlesea FC, Juventus FC and SL Benfica thanks to the transfers of Oscar, Pogba, Gonçalo Guedes and Lindelof, respectively. Indeed, as a result the Eagles doubled last year’s profit after-tax (EUR 44.5 million), whilst Juventus FC increased profits by almost EUR 40 million in comparison to the previous year.”
Finally, in terms of social media, while Real Madrid CF remain the most followed club in the world with almost 210 million followers , some football players show staggering figures as their social media reach is sometimes even bigger than that of the club for which they ply their trade, as in the case of Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF), James Rodríguez (FC Bayern München), David Luiz (Chelsea FC), Falcao (AS Monaco FC) and Pepe (Besiktas JK).
The financial and operational data of these and many other clubs can be explored on www.footballbenchmark.com, KPMG’s football business intelligence tool and the primary source of financial data in the football industry.