EPL revenues to exceed ?1.25 billion this year: Deloitte & Touche

LONDON: The 12th edition of the Deloitte & Touche annual review of football finance shows that the turnover of English football?s top division clubs has increased seven-fold in 10 years to ?1,132 million in 2001-02.

Deloitte & Touche estimates that Premiership revenues will have exceeded ?1.25 billion in 2002-03. The football league clubs have, meanwhile, grown their income to ?467 million.

In India, the English Premiere League airs live on ESPN Star Sports (ESS). Deloitte & Touche estimates the aggregated income of all clubs in the top divisions in Europe to be ?7.1 billion for 2001/02, rising from ?6.6 billion in 2000-01.

The ?big five? leagues (England, Italy, Spain, Germany and France) dominate with an 80 per cent share. The English Premiership has the largest individual share at 25 per cent. Adding in lower divisions, federations and national teams and UEFA competitions, Deloitte estimates the total European football finance market at around ?10 billion.

The report notes that the improved English Premiership TV deal in 2001-02 lifted England to the largest absolute broadcast income (from second behind Italy in 2000-01). This means the Premier League now heads the list in every income category (matchday, commercial and broadcasting revenues) - providing a significant competitive advantage to its member clubs.

Deloitte & Touche sport director Dan Jones said: "The past year has been a difficult one for football finances. Our report clearly shows grounds for optimism, but not complacency. The game has never had more money and England?s clubs lead the world in all areas of income generation and also in stadium investment. English football should be proud of that."

"What is needed now is strong management and leadership to control costs and improve the bottom line. Again, England?s clubs are the best placed in Europe to achieve that," Jones added.

The UEFA Champions League is the de facto sixth ?big? European league. Its estimated broadcasting income (distributed to participating clubs) of ?420 million would rank it third among the ?big five? leagues, in terms of domestic broadcasting income.

The competition?s average attendance in 2001-02 (of 34,361) was higher than any of the ?big five? domestic leagues. As reported earlier by ESS renewed its exclusive pay-TV multi-year cable and satellite rights in Asia for the UEFA Champions League (UCL) till 2006.

Jones also believes the European clubs have one key area where they should be learning from their English counterparts. "England?s match day incomes are now almost three times those of other big leagues. The transformation of English stadia through spending of almost ?1.5 billion in 11 seasons is fantastic. German, Italian and Spanish clubs need to address revenue generation and commercial issues at their stadia urgently or they will fall further behind."

The report further believes that the balance of power in wage negotiations is swinging decisively back towards the clubs. "The broadcasting revenue uncertainty across Europe, a spate of club administrations in England and potential rule changes by the Football League all change the environment."

The future for the majority of players is one of short-term contracts linked to the division in which they are playing; an in-built adjustment of salary on promotion or relegation; more sophisticated (financial and football) performance-related pay; and signings for clubs as an unattached free agent or on one-season loan deals. These are sensible measures to ensure the continued resilience and survival of all the 92 clubs who pay the players' - states the report.

Jones expressed cautious optimism about English football?s financial future saying: "As the market settles, the Premier League clubs should be the biggest financial winners as they have the best television product, compete directly with financially weakened overseas leagues for playing talent and have a stronger, more balanced income base than those overseas competitors."

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