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Premier League clubs’ revenues reach a record £4.8 billion, but profitability is dampened by rising wage spend

25 April 2019

  • Premier League clubs’ combined revenues for 2017/18 rose to a record £4.8 billion, up 6% from 2016/17 (£4.6 billion);
  • Clubs’ combined wage expenditure increased by £0.4 billion to a record £2.9 billion in 2017/18, with Premier League average wage/revenue ratio rising from 55% to 59%;
  • Wage growth impacted Premier League clubs’ operating profits, falling 16% to £0.9 billion (2016/17: £1 billion);
  • Clubs generated pre-tax profits of £0.4 billion, falling from the record £0.5 billion set in 2016/17.

Premier League clubs’ revenues increased to a record £4.8 billion in 2017/18, according to analysis from Deloitte’s Sports Business Group. However, wage costs increased by 15% year-on-year to £2.9 billion, resulting in combined operating profits of £0.9 billion (2016/17: £1 billion).

The increase in revenue is in part attributable to the Premier League having a record five teams competing in the UEFA Champions League last year, all reaching the Round of 16 or beyond, resulting in a substantial increase of c.£71m in UEFA Champions League distributions to Premier League clubs. Alongside the increase in UEFA distributions, matchday and commercial revenue both grew by 8% and 12% respectively.

Dan Jones, partner and head of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, commented: “Premier League clubs’ revenues continued to reach new heights in 2017/18.

“Tottenham Hotspur’s relocation to Wembley Stadium and increased commercial activity, including the commencement of their new kit deal with Nike, contributed more than half of the Premier League’s matchday revenue growth and almost a quarter of the Premier League’s commercial revenue growth respectively, driving the club’s record levels of pre-tax profitability.”

However, the Premier League’s wages/revenue ratio increased to 59% in 2017/18, rising from the previous season’s ratio of 55%, which was a 19-year low owing to the increased broadcast revenues at the start of the current broadcast rights cycle. Almost half of Premier League clubs recorded a wages/revenue ratio of 70% or greater, with overall wage spend increasing 15% to £2.9 billion. This had a direct impact on clubs’ collective operating profitability, falling to £0.9 billion, albeit still the second highest in Premier League history.

Jones added, “We have seen clubs’ wage expenditure increase at a faster rate than revenue growth in 2017/18. This is the same pattern as observed in the second year of the previous Premier League broadcast rights cycles, as clubs continue to invest in playing talent. 59% is the lowest wages/revenue ratio outside the first year of a broadcast rights cycle since the 1998/99 season.”

The analysis reveals that Premier League clubs made a collective pre-tax profit for the fourth time in the last five years, again the second highest profit in history, with three clubs (Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur) contributing over 75% of this total, but also an increase in the number of clubs reporting a pre-tax loss.

Tim Bridge, director in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: “The increased wage expenditure was expected given the busy transfer market in the 2017/18 season, with two record transfer windows driving estimated Premier League gross spend of £1.9 billion.

“However, with the total value of Premier League broadcast rights expected to only marginally increase in the 2019/20-2021/22 broadcast rights cycle, increases in wage and transfer expenditure may be expected to slow in the medium term, as already signalled by the reduced estimated £1.4 billion gross transfer spend in the current season.

“With the emphasis now on clubs to generate revenue growth from sources other than central broadcast distributions, it may be that we see the levels of pre-tax profit diminish over the next few years.”

Full analysis of football clubs’ finances will be published in the next edition of Deloitte’s Annual Review of Football Finance in May/June 2019.

End

Note to editors

Note: Totals may not sum due to rounding

Source: Deloitte analysis

The analysis of the financial results of Premier League clubs for 2017/18 has been based on figures extracted from the latest available company or group financial statements in respect of each club.

In general, the financial figures are extracted from the annual financial statements of the legal entity registered in the United Kingdom which is at, or closest to, the ‘top’ of the ownership structure in respect of each club. In some cases Deloitte has made adjustments to club’s figures to enable, in our view, a more meaningful comparison of the football business on a club by club basis and over time.

The published financial statements of clubs rarely split wage costs between playing staff and other staff. Therefore, references to wage costs relate to total wage costs, including both playing staff and other staff. For the purpose of this analysis, references to operating result (profit or loss) is the net of clubs’ revenues less wages and other operating costs, excluding player trading (amortisation of transfer costs and profit/loss on disposal of players) and certain exceptional items.

For more than 25 years Deloitte has documented clubs’ business and commercial performance in the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance, applying consistent methodologies. The next edition of the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance will be published in May/June 2019, shortly after the end of the 2018/19 season, and will include more in-depth analysis including financial analysis on a club by club basis. More information about previous editions of the Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance can be found on www.deloitte.co.uk/arff

About the Sports Business Group at Deloitte
Over the last 25 years Deloitte has developed a unique focus on the business of sport. Our specialist Sports Business Group offers a multi-disciplined expert service with dedicated people and skills capable of adding significant value to the business of sport. Whether it is benchmarking or strategic business reviews, operational turnarounds, revenue enhancement strategies or stadium/venue development plans, business planning, market and demand analysis, acquisitions, due diligence, expert witness, audits or tax planning; we have worked with more clubs, leagues, governing bodies, stadia developers, event organisers, commercial partners, financiers and investors than any other adviser.

For further information on our services you can access our website at www.deloitte.co.uk/sportsbusinessgroup

About Deloitte
In this press release references to “Deloitte” are references to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”) a UK private company limited by guarantee, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity.

Please see deloitte.com/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of DTTL and its member firms.

Deloitte LLP is a subsidiary of Deloitte NWE LLP, which is a member firm of DTTL, and is among the UK's leading professional services firms.

The information contained in this press release is correct at the time of going to press.

For more information, please visit www.deloitte.co.uk

Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited

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