Super club status a mixed blessing for City
Manchester City have been named as one of nine European super clubs by Uefa. While the recognition is welcome, it could store up problems for the future. Uefa may decide to target these clubs with new financial fair play (FFP) measures.
Uefa are concerned that the super clubs are appropriating most of the available commercial revenue and pushing up wages.
European football clubs have increased profits by €1.5bn over the past two seasons, after sustaining years of heavy losses, according to Uefa's latest 'benchmark' report. The study says revenues at Europe’s clubs have risen consistently over the past two decades, while the English Premier League’s financial dominance over its continental peers has continued to grow.
Interest in the game, particularly in the top five leagues in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France, has spurred ever-larger contracts with broadcasters and sponsors, and higher gate receipts in stadiums. But heavy spending, such as on player transfers and staff costs, had led to consistent losses at European clubs.
The data show that Europe’s clubs have begun to swing into significant profits since FFP rules, which place curbs on how much teams can spend as a proportion of income, began to be implemented in 2011. In that year, aggregate operating losses for clubs were €382m, compared with a profit of €727m in 2015, the latest year for which figures have been made available.
Premier League clubs have an annual average revenue of €4.4bn, about €2bn more than in Germany's Bundesliga, the next most prosperous league. However, the average wage bill of Premier League clubs is more than double than that of the next highest paying league, Serie A.
Only two clubs - FC Barcelona and Real Madrid - earn more in broadcast revenues than the top eight English league teams. La Liga distributes money from TV rights deals less evenly than the Premier League. The two leading Spanish teams remain the highest earners in Europe, able to afford larger wage bills than Manchester United.
Germany's Bundesliga actually has the highest average attendance in Europe with crowds of 43,300, even though the Premier League has a bigger aggregate gate. All eight clubs that have recorded home match aggregate attendances of more than one million are in the top tier in England, Germany or Spain. If attendances interest you, there is some fascinating detailed data in the report.
17 clubs are now under Asian majority ownership. The long march of China through European football is confirmed with Chinese groups and individuals having taken over nine clubs in six different leagues in the last two seasons. Only the US rivals clubs in terms of levels of ownership.