UEFA Warns: Arsenal, Man Utd, City, Chelsea Are Unstoppable Rich Clubs
An elite group of nine European ‘super clubs’, including five from the Premier League, are now so wealthy that nobody else has any realistic chance of catching them financially, a new official report from UEFA warns.
Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool along with Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona, Germany’s Bayern Munich and France’s Paris Saint-Germain are featured in a new report from UEFA as being among ‘global brands’ who ‘monetise their huge supporter bases’ around the world in ways never seen before.
According to Daily Mail, in hard economic terms, these clubs have each boosted their annual income by around £100million each just from commercial sources – mainly club and shirt sponsors – over the past six years. The average increase for most of Europe’s other 700-plus top division clubs in the same period has been well below £1m.
Within the latest edition of UEFA’s annual ‘benchmarking’ report, to be published on Thursday and obtained by Sportsmail, the president of Europe’s football governing body, Aleksander Ceferin, warns of the dangers this imbalance could bring.
‘As the guardian of the game in Europe, UEFA must remain vigilant and take note of the less positive trends highlighted in the report, such as a return to high wage growth and the increasing concentration of sponsorship and commercial revenue among a handful of clubs,’ Ceferin writes.
Financial muscle is hugely influential to on-pitch success. Freak successes for ‘lesser’ clubs so happen, as Leicester’s Premier League miracle last season showed. But that was very much a rare exception and at the highest club level, in the Champions League, the rich elite have dominated the latter stages for years and increasingly do so.
The report says the super clubs’ share of football’s wealth is ‘being sliced and segmented into an ever larger and more lucrative number of deals.
‘This is enabling those global super clubs’ to monetise their huge supporter bases, which extend across the globe and which can be accessed far better through social media than was ever possible through traditional marketing in the past.
‘These supporter bases are growing inexorably, powered by star players, overseas tours and regular participation in the UEFA Champions League group stage.’
Ceferin stresses in the report that UEFA’s controversial ‘Financial Fair Play’ rules have been a success in one key area – reducing financial losses.
In the two years before FFP began, clubs across Europe collectively lost £560m, and in the past two years they have made a collective profit of £1.2bn. Clubs spending much more than they earn, as Manchester City did before being punished for FFP breaches, is largely a thing of the past.
But massive disparities persist. The Premier League’s 20 clubs alone have more income each year, or almost £4bn, than the 597 clubs in Europe’s smallest 48 leagues combined.
That difference will grow again as the new Premier League deals in force from this season continue to make England’s elite wealthier. The bottom team in the Premier League this season will make more from TV alone (around £105m) than most clubs in Europe make from all sources.
The report also says that all of the world’s footballers combined are worth around £25.5bn, and of those, Europe is home to around £21bn of talent and the Premier League by itself has players worth around £3.7bn. Premier League wage spending at around £2.3bn for the 20 clubs combined per season is now more than twice as much as rivals in Italy, Spain and Germany.
English and German football have the biggest attendances, accounting for 55m of the 170m people watching league games across Europe last season.
England has more foreign owners – 28 – than the rest of Europe’s 13 biggest leagues combined (16), with Chinese investors (nine majority owners) closing on Americans (10) across the continent.