MADRID – The five major European leagues are becoming increasingly powerful economically to the point that their clubs’ profits account for 75 percent of those of all the first European divisions.
The economic clout of the “Top 5” (the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga, the Spanish LaLiga, the Italian Serie A and the French Ligue 1) has only grown in the last decade, with revenue doubling from 2009 to 2018 from 11.7 billion to 21 billion euros, according to data from the European football association.
An extensive report by UEFA showed in 2018 the English Premier League dominated, with 5.4 billion euros in income, followed by the Bundesliga (3.2 billion), LaLiga (3.1 billion), Serie A (2.3 billion) and Ligue 1 (1.7 billion).
The leagues were miles ahead of the clubs in the next championship – with Russia on 752 million.
UEFA’s president, Slovenian Aleksander Ceferin, said in the report that the polarization of revenue was one of the “threats to continued European football stability and success.”
“These include the risks of globalisation-fuelled revenue polarisation, of a fragmenting media landscape and of cases of overdependence on transfer activity revenue,” Ceferin said in a statement accompanying the report.
The executive of the governing body was confident that European football is “strong, united and resilient.”
“I am certain that European football can and will overcome these challenges and others just as successfully as we dealt with the threat of spiraling losses in the recent past,” Ceferin added.
This polarization of income is even more evident in other data in the report.
The 20 English Premier League clubs accumulated more revenue in 2018 than the 617 clubs in the 50 leagues below the Top 5.
The average income of the 30 main clubs on the European scene – a group with an English majority but led by the two Spanish clubs Real Madrid and Barcelona – is triple the average of the rest of the clubs in all championships.
Among them, revenue growth is concentrated in the Top 20.
The main sources of revenue growth for European clubs are television revenues, which grew between 2009-2018 by 4.2 billion euros (a 114 percent increase), commercial and sponsor revenue (2.7 billion, 73 percent increase) and UEFA competition prizes (1.5 billion, 245 percent increase).
Profits obtained from television operators represent, on average, 37 percent of the total income of each European club, according to UEFA data from 2018, followed by sponsorship (22 percent), subscriptions and tickets (15 percent), UEFA competition revenues (10 percent) and commercials (8 percent).
The polarization of the European leagues is also reflected in the television sector.
In England, clubs receive an average of 143.2 million euros from television operators (53 percent of their income); in Spain 66.6 million (42 percent of their income); Germany 60.3 million; Italy 54 million and France 31.1 million.