Football: £3.3bn broadcast bonanza sets Premier League apart

Jamie Vardy celebrates after scoring the third goal for Leicester City against Everton during a Barclays Premier League football match.
Jamie Vardy celebrates after scoring the third goal for Leicester City against Everton during a Barclays Premier League football match.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (REUTERS) - Premier League clubs enjoyed record revenues of £3.3bn (S$6.55 billion) in 2014-15 thanks to broadcast deals that will be even more lucrative next season, according to Deloitte.

The company's Sports Business Group said in its 25th annual review of football finance that England's top 92 professional soccer clubs had generated more than £4bn in revenues for the first time.

Deloitte partner Dan Jones said soccer's financial growth since the first review was published in 1992 had been "staggering" and the impact of the Premier League broadcast money was evident.

"By halftime of the second Premier League game that is televised domestically in 2016-17, more broadcast revenue will have been generated than by all the First Division matches combined 25 years ago," he said in a foreword to the report.

"For the first time, the Premier League leads the football world in all three key revenue categories - commercial, matchday and broadcast - and this is driving sustainable profitability."

A new three-year cycle of broadcast rights with BSkyB and BT Sport that kicks in next season could see operating profits rise as high as one billion pounds.

The review reported that combined revenues for Europe's big five leagues - England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France - rose by six percent to 12 billion euros (S$18.5 billion) and were likely to exceed 15 billion euros in 2016-17.

However, the Premier League generates more than twice the broadcast revenues of Italy's Serie A and three times that of the 18 Bundesliga clubs.

Premier League clubs' wage costs exceeded two billion pounds for the first time in 2014-15 with the wages/revenue ratio increasing from 58 percent to 61 percent.

Deloitte said this was still 10 percentage points lower than in 2012-13. The picture from the English Championship (second tier) was mixed, with the combined wage bill almost as much as they generated in revenues.

Deloitte said combined revenues in the Championship were 548 million pounds, exceeding half a billion for the first time, but wage costs rose to 541 million as clubs splashed out in the hope of reaching the 'promised land of the Premier League'.

Yet the example of Leicester City, Premier League champions in 2015-16, demonstrated that financial advantage still did not guarantee success.

The season before, Leicester had the 12th highest revenue in the top flight, the third smallest wage bill and narrowly escaped relegation.