Deloitte Football Money League 2021

Testing times

January 2021

Welcome to the 24th edition of the Deloitte Football Money League (‘DFML’), which profiles the financial performance of the highest revenue generating clubs in world football during the disrupted 2019/20 season.

Published just six months after the end of the disrupted 2019/20 season, the Money League is the most contemporary and reliable independent analysis of the clubs’ relative financial performance. The key findings of this edition are:

  • The top 20 clubs generated a combined €8.2 billion in 2019/20, down 12% on the prior season (€9.3 billion).
  • This €1.1 billion decrease is explained by:
    • a €937m (23%) drop in broadcast revenue, primarily due to the deferral of broadcast revenues to the financial year ending in 2020 and broadcaster rebates related to the disrupted 2019/20 season;
    • a €257m (17%) fall in matchday revenue as matches were first postponed and then either cancelled or resumed behind closed doors; and
    • offset by a €105m (3%) increase in commercial revenue, reflecting the commencement of several major commercial arrangements across Money League clubs in 2019/20.

  • We estimate that this year’s Money League clubs will have missed out on over €2 billion in revenue by the end of the 2020/21 season, including amounts foregone in respect of 2019/20, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, primarily due to:
    • Matchday revenue of Money League clubs being close to nil from March 2020 onwards, with fans unlikely to be able to return in significant numbers for any of the 2020/21 season; and
    • Broadcast rebates of the ‘big five’ leagues and UEFA reportedly total almost €1.2bn currently, of which a large proportion is borne by Money League clubs; and
    • The lost potential to continue their previous growth trajectory over the period.

Set against the context of the global economic and social disruption caused by COVID-19, the (delayed) continuation of professional football in most countries offered a degree of normality in an otherwise disrupted world.

Governments around the world responded to the pandemic in different ways, and governing bodies across professional sport introduced varying methods to adapt to the challenges faced, with competitions being postponed, terminated or annulled entirely.

For those that did see the return of professional football, extended restrictions on mass gatherings and non-essential travel meant that in most cases fans were not able to attend matches, or where they were able to, in very limited numbers.

Across global football, differing responses to the pandemic have resulted in varying financial impacts on a club-by-club basis. There is no doubt that this is one of the most testing times the football industry has ever had to endure: the absence of fans, postponement and cancellation of matches, rebates to broadcasters and need to satisfy commercial partners have all had a significant impact on the compilation of the 2021 Football Money League. As a result, the comparability and relative performance between clubs in this year’s Money League is challenging.

The longer-term outlook remains uncertain, and we estimate that this year’s Money League clubs will have missed out on over €2 billion in revenue by the end of the 2020/21 season as a result of the pandemic.

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