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Premier League football clubs struggle to convert revenues to profit

Despite teams in the Premier League posting total revenues of £3.6bn, pre-tax losses of £110m were recorded by accountancy firm Deloitte in new research.
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In its annual study of football finances, this time for the years 2015/16, Deloitte noted a 12 per cent climb in Premier League wage costs – to £2.3bn – and revenue growth of ten per cent.

Dan Jones, partner and head of the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said the analysis revealed a return to pre-tax losses after two consecutive years of pre-tax profits.

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“However, it is worth noting that this is due to a small number of one-off ‘exceptional’ costs, and we fully expect that the new Premier League three-year broadcast rights deal will see a return to levels of profitability in the 2016/17 season,” he commented.

Alongside the new deal with Sky and BT, which began in August and is worth £5.1bn over three years, stadium moves and expansions by the likes of Chelsea, Tottenham and Everton are expected to drive an increase in future revenues.

Deloitte told Real Business that 18 out of 20 Premier League clubs made an operating profit in 2015/16, compared to 17 the previous year, and that 12 out of 20 clubs made a pre-tax profit in 2015/16, compared to 14 in 2014/15.

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Since Deloitte began gathering figures, in 1998/99, only two years have seen profit before tax achieved. From a low point of around £400m in losses in 2009/10 and 2010/11, profit climbed to around £200m in 2013/14, £100m in 2015/16 – before falling got its current level of a £110m loss.

Deloitte believes the combination of increased wage costs, increased amortisation charges and the exceptional costs saw figures slip into the red.

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Looking away from revenue and profit, a report released by UEFA in January 2017 looking at the financial health of football clubs across Europe showed Manchester United topped the pile of most “debt ridden” clubs at $570m. Other Premier League clubs to make top 20 include QPR, which reportedly owes most of its $287m debt to the club’s owners, Sunderland ($221m) and Liverpool ($174m).

Despite Manchester United having $219m more debt than any other European club, its earning potential continues to see it post record revenues.

Jones added: “Manchester United’s participation in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League, coupled with continued strong commercial revenue growth, resulted in a 30 per cent increase in revenue to £515m. This saw them top the Deloitte Football Money League for the first time since 2003/04, as the world’s highest revenue-generating club.”

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About Author

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven is the editor of Real Business. He is also the editor of Business Advice, a title focused solely on a section of the business community currently underserved – micro companies. Alongside this, he is part of the team that hosts the Growing Business Awards, First Women Awards and Future 50 initiative.

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