European club football's financial turnaround

The huge impact of Financial Fair Play on European football, and how the measures have led to a more stable financial environment, is made clear in UEFA's latest club licensing benchmarking report.

©Getty Images

UEFA has released its eighth club licensing benchmarking report on European football.

The latest report again highlights how UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations have turned around football finances, creating a more stable and sustainable financial position for European top-division clubs.

In addition to the pdf and print versions of the report in various languages, an interactive digital version has been produced for the first time, featuring extracts from the report for you to explore.

The report offers an exhaustive and exclusive review of the continental club game and a thorough analysis of the financial development of European football.

This comprehensive picture of football finance shows the hugely positive impact that Financial Fair Play has had on European club football:
• Aggregate operating profits have risen to €1.5bn in the last two years, compared to losses of €700m in the two years immediately prior to the introduction of Financial Fair Play.

• Aggregate losses have dropped by 81% since the full introduction of Financial Fair Play ─ from €1.7bn in 2011 to just over €300m in 2015.

Net debt as a percentage of revenue has fallen from 65% in 2009 to 40% in 2015.

In his foreword to the report, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin states: "The success story of football as a cultural and commercial force stands out once more. It shows that UEFA's regulatory role in Financial Fair Play has not only steadied the ship of European finance, but also provided the framework for unprecedented growth, investment and profitability."

Here are some other key findings from the report:
• Football club revenues have increased for 20 consecutive years, now reaching almost €17bn for clubs in European top divisions.

• There has been a significant reduction in the number of loss-making clubs in Europe since the introduction of Financial Fair Play, and in particular the worst excesses have been curbed, with the number of clubs with a single-year loss of more than €45m falling from 11 clubs in FY11 to four clubs in FY15.

• European club football is enjoying unprecedented levels of investment – 58 new club stadiums were completed between 2014–2017, compared to 23 in the previous four-year period.

©UEFA

• Since the introduction of the Financial Fair Play break-even requirements (2011–2015), €1.3bn has been added to the balance sheet value of fixed assets.

• The top 15 European clubs have added €1.51bn in sponsorship and commercial revenues in the last six years (148% increase), compared to the €453m added by the rest of the approximately 700 top-division clubs in Europe (17% increase).

The report focuses not only on pure financial metrics, but also shows that:

• Loan restrictions (adopted by 15 leagues) and squad limits (28 countries) are increasingly popular across Europe as a means of preventing player hoarding and/or protecting the integrity of competitions.

• More than 170m spectators went to European league matches in 2015/16, with 55m attending matches in England and Germany.

• The English Premier League has comfortably the highest percentage of expatriate players, at almost 70%.

• Forty-four clubs in major European leagues are now under foreign ownership, by owners from 18 nations.

UEFA's Head of Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play, Andrea Traverso, explains in his introduction: "The report continues to provide a complete review of European club football, like no other publication. The footballing landscape is changing quickly, with new investments taking place at a speed which has not been observed before.

"With many concerned about competitive balance within and between leagues, UEFA, together with its stakeholders, will need to continuously review and adapt its regulations to this fast- changing environment, bearing in mind that overspending and unsustainable business models cannot be the answer to financial inequality."

It is in this context that UEFA has issued its eighth edition of 'The European Club Footballing Landscape' – we hope that you enjoy the read.

The report is also available in:
French
German
Russian
Mandarin