Post-Covid-19, Deloitte says top-flight clubs can “look ahead with optimism”.

Premier League clubs can “be optimistic about the future” after new figures from Deloitte showed total revenue rose to £4.9bn in the first full season following the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Key findings from the finance firm’s 31st Annual Review of Football Finance show that the figure for the 2020-21 season is up eight per cent after falling from £5.2bn to £4.5bn in the immediate wake of the pandemic the previous year .£ had fallen.

England top teams’ earnings are expected to reach £5.5bn for the 2021-22 season and £6bn 12 months later, surpassing pre-Covid levels.

According to the report published on Thursday, the overall European football market rebounded with total revenues up 10 percent to €27.6 billion (£23.3 billion), despite almost no fans being in stadiums over the period.

Most Premier League games in the 2020-21 season were played without fans (Shaun Botterill/PA)

(PA Archive)

The increase was largely due to deferred broadcast earnings and the success of the rearranged Euro 2020 tournament.

The ‘Big Five’ of European leagues – the Premier League, German Bundesliga, Spain’s LaLiga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1 – grew three percent to €15.6 billion (£13.2 billion).

However, the Premier League, which generated just £31m in matchday revenue, was the only one of the five divisions where clubs improved overall operating profit, which rose from £49m cumulatively to £479m.

Excluding the Premier League, the ‘Big Five’ total operating losses rose to 901m euros (£760.7m) from 461m euros (£389.2m).

While there are still challenges ahead, I think all these Premier League clubs can now be optimistic about what is to come

Tim Bridge

Tim Bridge, leading partner in Deloitte’s sports business group, believes Premier League clubs have reason to move forward with financial confidence.

“If you just look at the revenue generated by clubs at Premier League level, you would say the message is consistently positive in terms of how they have weathered the pandemic,” he told the PA news agency.

“Obviously it was a shock to the clubs whole business model and they had to adapt and work in a slightly different way.

“But if we look at the financial statements of Premier League clubs, to get through this they didn’t have to take on significant amounts of foreign debt, they didn’t have to cripple themselves in a way that maybe other clubs across Europe do or some of the Championship clubs do had to do this.

“While there are still challenges ahead, all these Premier League clubs can now be optimistic about what’s to come.”

The success of the reorganized Euro 2020 tournament, won by Italy, was a factor in the recovery of European (PA) football markets.

(PA Archive)

The increase in Premier League revenue is largely due to a reported £330m broadcast rebate and the deferral of some television revenue from the 2019-20 season.

Wage bills rose five per cent to £3.5bn over the period, while pre-tax losses remained significant despite falling from £991m to £669m, with just four clubs – Leeds, Manchester City , Sheffield United and Wolves – a reported profit before tax.

Overall, Premier League clubs’ net debt rose four per cent to £4.1bn from £3.9bn.

In the English Football League, Bridge believes that “significant changes” are needed to ensure clubs’ long-term financial sustainability.

Combined Championship revenue fell by £78m to £600m, a fall of 12 per cent, mainly due to a £150m drop in matchday revenue from £166m to £16m.

Meanwhile, second tier net debt rose by £433m to £1.8bn, up 32 per cent.

“There is no doubt that significant changes are required to advance the long-term financial sustainability of the championship,” said Bridge.

“Without sustained collaboration across the English football system, the gap to the Premier League, the competitive advantage of clubs with parachute payments and the cycle of clubs keen on promotion will only continue to widen.”

League One club revenue fell 22 per cent to £129m, while League Two total revenue fell four per cent to £94m.

The negative impact of the pandemic also meant League One clubs’ average wage bill of £5.5m exceeded revenue for the first time, with a wage-to-revenue ratio of 103 per cent. Post-Covid-19, Deloitte says top-flight clubs can “look ahead with optimism”.

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