The European football association released important data highlighting improvements in the economic aspects of the clubs.
UEFA has released economic data relative to 718 first tiers’ clubs. The period under observation is until December 2017. The data highlights a clear economic improvement compared to the past.
For the first time, European football has generated profits. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin explained that “thanks to the financial fair play rules, football has never been healthier. The combined €600m profits represent a clear improvement compared to the €1,700m loss recorded in 2011.”
Although the financial statements of the clubs are nowadays definitely more balanced, the main aspect that should be analyzed is the incredible imbalance in purchasing power between the top-European clubs and the other competitors.
Football powerhouses like Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Bayern Munich, and PSG have been making a difference pouring fresh cash in the transfer market.
Although Ceferin firmly believes that “the introduction of a licensee system including the control costs mechanisms is establishing a solid economic situation”, the main issue lies in the possibility of the top-clubs to attract sponsors.
Football giants have been sealing very remunerative sponsorship deals and thanks to the injection of fresh cash into their coffers have been able to sign key players for their rosters.
The technical gap between the first and second band clubs has increased. The competitiveness of the leagues, instead, has diminished. Only the Premier League has been very challenging. But the Italian Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga, as well as the French Ligue 1 have been dominated by the rich powerhouses.
The Italian situation is particularly worrisome. Juventus won the past seven titles and in the last transfer window, President Agnelli signed Cristiano Ronaldo as well. Roma, Napoli, AC Milan, and Inter are simply not in the condition to invest like the bianconeri do in order to reduce the gap and compete properly.
The main issue is revenues. Juventus is one of the fewest Italian clubs that own a stadium.
Roma president James Pallotta presented a project to build a new facility in the eternal city more than 5 years ago. But unexpected delays have complicated a process still under approval. Inter and AC Milan are negotiating with the municipality to share the Stadio San Siro by making it a private hub for the two historic and glorious clubs of Northern Italy. The Stadio San Paolo in Naples, instead, needs TLC to become more productive.
The financial fair play rules seem to have increased the gap between the top-European sides and those clubs that are willing to invest without having the possibility to do so. According to the FFP regulations, clubs can reinvest only the profits made by trading players or spending the revenues previously generated. But if sponsors are not willing to sign remunerative deals with them, their purchasing power decreases compromising their competitiveness locally and internationally.
UEFA seems to have still much to do to rebalance the European football powers. Targeted actions are necessary to give new life to a sport that thrills millions of people.