John McCormick writes: last November I took a look at the Deloitte Money League (https://safc.blog/?p=38977), which ranks clubs according to income from matchdays, broadcasting rights and other commercial activities, including sponsorship …
We weren’t in the Money League as such as it’s reserved for the top 20 clubs but we had made Deloitte’s top 30 with revenue of €87.9million. I described this as “third division”, on the grounds that Real and Barca were so out in front that they formed a division of their own and the other 18 clubs from the top 20 made a second division.
With us in the third division were West Ham and Everton, who were just above us, and also Aston Villa and NUFC, who occupied 25th and 24th places respectively.
The news since then has been mixed. Our revenue increased, to €96 million, but the majority of clubs in the Deloitte report did at least as well as us so we had only moved up one place when the 2013 Money League came out. I didn’t expect to make the top 20 (in one season), and it’s gratifying to see that we are establishing ourselves in the top 30, but I would have liked us to have done better, especially as Fulham, who had had a year out of the list, leapfrogged us to replace West Ham, who dropped out following relegation.
So now it’s Fulham, Everton and Villa who occupy three of the places immediately above us. This can be explained by higher merit payments, although it’s the the horse-punchers who best demonstrate the importance of this income strand. Despite a £2 million drop in sponsorship Newcastle’s fifth place finish allowed them to make the Money League itself. They replaced Valencia at number 20 and Deloitte mooted the possibility that they would climb higher if they were to maintain a high Premier position. However, they slumped last season and are likely to slip out of the top 20, despite their European saga and their efforts on the equestrian front.
Returning to Fulham and Villa, we can note that while they also underachieved last season they still did better than us, which means their merit payments will continue to surpass ours. I’m quite ignorant about their other two income strands; neither achieve crowds as big as ours so can presumably only achieve a better matchday income on the back of higher prices, but that’s the limit of my knowledge. I know nothing about their other commercial activity and whether it is capable of improvement. If I were to guess I’d say that as neither Fulham or Villa have a modern stadium they will be ill-equipped to compete against other venues, which leads me think we would pass these two if we achieve a higher finish in the Premier League.
Everton might also be catchable. They have traditionally finished well in the Premier and therefore done well from merit payments but their other two revenue strands are limited and are likely to remain so as their prospects of building a new stadium have receded and I’ve seen nothing recently about better sponsorship deals. We probably only need to rise a few places while they fall, which begs the question: “Will our changes do us more good than their changes?” Maybe, but I’m not holding my breath.
West Ham are a different kettle of fish. Not only will they return to the Deloitte list after finishing well this season, their future’s looking good. They anticipate moving into a revamped 54,000 capacity Olympic stadium in 2016, with corporate seats and boxes as well as entry level prices. I believe they will pay rent and have a revenue sharing agreement but even so they will increase their earning potential by a significant amount. I can’t see us catching them unless something goes wrong at their club.
Putting all of this together I’d say that, even allowing for challenges from rivals, we are capable of overtaking some of the Premiership clubs currently above us in Deloitte’s top 30.
Furthermore, passing some European clubs is also possible. Currently 21 of Deloitte’s top 30 are not from the Premier League.
A suggested increase of 20-30 million euros per year from the Premier’s new TV deal could mean we overtake some clubs in leagues which are not as well financed as the Premiership. This could include some formerly prominent clubs such as Valencia, at least temporarily.
Valencia and La Liga rivals Atletico both moved downwards in the Deloitte league recently and, while Atletico’s subsequent qualification for the Champions League will boost them, Valencia only finished fifth in La Liga last season. They already have a relatively poor TV deal and now they will be deprived of their Champions’ League income. With ownership and financing issues yet to be resolved they look likely to face a couple of sticky years and I can see them sliding downwards.
On the other hand, we can expect competition from elsewhere. PSG have yet to appear in Deloitte’s 30 and when they do arrive, courtesy of the Champions League, it will be with a bang.
Deloitte also notes that the next World Cup will provide a stimulus to the Russian clubs so we could expect a challenge there.
Even longer term, South American clubs could be vying for places. Corinthians crept into sight in the 2013 report. Until I saw them listed I had thought that the Money League focused only Europe. That’s apparently not the case and it lets me finish with a pleasant thought – that Sunderland is one of the top 30 revenue-earning football clubs on the planet. That’s not a bad foundation for a new chief coach to build on, so, Paolo, in the words of your director of football, wake this sleeping giant up!
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