Cash Cow

Just looking through some football mags from over the last year and found the below. Quite interesting.

Southampton FC in top 20 rich list - In the world.

Several middle-ranking English Premier League sides turn up in the lastest list of the world’s richest clubs, the 2016 Deloitte Football Money League. A few years ago this would simply not have happened - chairmen of such clubs would have been more concerned about squirrelling money away to avoid the almost inevitable administration that would follow if they were relegated.

The fact that Swansea, Southampton and Crystal Palace have out-muscled Champions League regulars such as Benfica, Galatasaray and Schalke on the so-called rich list is the most stark testament yet to the Premier League’s prowess as a worldwide “brand”.

The Deloitte report cites a trio of events that have strenghened the balance sheets of clubs. Two are expected, but one reason is quite unusual. The main boost to club finances has come from the rise in broadcast television revenues seen in the previous rights dealwhich runs until next season. What was described at the time as an “eye-watering” payment of £3.018 billion by Sky and BT Sport has now been dwarfed by the new £5.1bn deal. But this sum will not start to filter throughto this survey for another 2 years. It was also added to by a big rise in payments from foreign TV firms, especially America’s NBC. They have recently extended their premier league broadcast agreement , set up in 2013-14, for another six years at the cost of $1bn (690m). That is why Deloitte predicted in its latest report that all 20 Premier League clubs are likely to make the top 30 rich list within two seasons and why they thinkManchester United will top their table next year, despiteReal Madrid earning more from the Champions League than them.

A statistic that will probably concer all fans is that, for the first time, English clubs in the top 30 made more revenue from broadcasting than they made from matchday ticket sales and commercial deals combined. However, clubs still appear to recognise that good matchday experience makes for good viewing, with half of the current Premier League actively considering stadium redevelopment or relocation, currently undergoing redevelopment works, or having recently completed a stadium upgrade.

Residents of the UK are fully aware of the London-centric nature of the economy and Deloitte report duly acknowledges the city’s appeal as place for corporate clients to entrained, citing a “London lift” as a reason many more Premier League clubs are in the most recent list. West Ham have ousted Napoli from the top 20 and Palace, one of those clubs that tumbled into administration after falling from the Premier League now feature amoung the 30 “richest” clubs in the world. The previous Palace board’s “five year plan” for rejuvenation had paid off even before the latest investment from the recently acquired American shareholders.

The final reason for why English clubs have raced up the money league is an unlikely one, but one that will stay with us for a while to come. A strong year for the sterling against the euro gave an extra boost to Premier League sides in relation to their european counterparts. Every £10m of revenue accrued in 2014/15 was worth an extra 1.2m euros compared to the previous year, which helps the premier league clubs when comparing their financial performances on a year-on-year basis.

Pundits often talk of football’s bubble bursting, but I cannot see that happening for a while it remains a crucial part of some broadcasters’ business model. With the prospects of corporate behemoths such as Google and Amazon taking an interest at some point, Sky and BT will continue to ramp up their own offers. And the continued rise in revenues from international broadcast sales serves to show why they should be determained to fend off potential competitors.

In Australia, Sky’s sister station, Fox Sports, has been outbid for the Premier League live rights by Optus - a phone and broadband company that has no traditional TV channels, but believes it can get the audience it needs by streaming matches to mobile phones and through home broadband connections. When live sport drives broadband connections, England’s clubs will get richer. Whether they will ever learn to control their cashflow is another matter.

When Saturday Comes - March 2016 - by Marc Webber

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