English clubs can be expected to maintain their strong financial performance, at least in the short to medium term. New domestic broadcast deals running between 2025/26 and 2028/29 will see an average annual increase of c.4% on a like-for-like basis, despite challenging market conditions. 2023 saw Serie A and Ligue 1 fail to secure bids matching their minimum asking prices in domestic rights tenders. The former eventually agreed deals through to 2029 at a marginal decline in average annual value over the current cycle, excluding variable components, while the latter is currently in private negotiations with potential partners. With LaLiga’s current domestic rights agreements secured through to 2027, the upcoming renewal of the Bundesliga’s domestic broadcast rights will be watched with interest by its peers.
However, the high demand for live sport, and other entertainment, is pointing towards more promising growth for commercial and matchday revenue. During the 2022/23 season, revenue uplift was unlocked through more effective utilisation of stadia by clubs, including on non-matchdays, and we expect this to grow in the future with a greater focus on infrastructure investment.
A new wave of stadia development is already underway across European football, funded in various ways including through minority equity sales (Paris Saint-Germain) and ringfenced private equity investment, as seen in the Spanish and French leagues. Clubs across Europe, including Real Madrid, Manchester City, FC Barcelona, Liverpool, AC Milan, and FC Internazionale Milano are all in the process of stadia development.
Such investments illustrate clubs’ vision of treating their stadium as year-round, multi-purpose entertainment venues. At a time when broadcast rights could be plateauing, enhanced stadium revenue could help clubs drive financial growth through increased capacity and a wider entertainment offering, including live events.
Going forward, diversification of revenues may prove particularly important for European clubs to gain control over a larger proportion of their total revenue. This will enable clubs to insulate themselves from the variability of on-pitch performance, challenging macroeconomic conditions and future jolts to the football ecosystem at a time when clubs face a greater degree of financial regulation from UEFA and local governing bodies.
It is expected that the flow of investment into top tier European football will continue in the short to medium-term. Since 2022, seven of the 20 Money League clubs have received external investment, with five of the transactions relating to minority stakes. This is in line with external macro-economic trends which have impacted the availability and cost of funds for investors. While such economic conditions persist, a polarising effect may occur whereby future investment may be concentrated to lower risk, stable opportunities.
Acknowledging that financial growth is one outcome, the continued expansion of global football also presents challenges around the calendar and player welfare. Other sports, most notably rugby, have grappled with the challenge of balancing player load and commercial growth through an expanded calendar. While we will report the financial impact of such changes, there’s also a need for care in how the game is developed. Stakeholder alignment is needed to protect the quality of the on-pitch product for the long-term.