European Soccer Sales Reach 16.3 Billion Euros, Deloitte Says

Record growth in Europe’s top five leagues boosted revenue in the continent’s soccer industry by 4 percent to an all-time high of 16.3 billion euros ($23.8 billion) in 2009-10, accountant Deloitte LLP said.

England’s Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga, Spain’s La Liga, Italy’s Serie A and France’s Ligue 1 -- the “Big Five” - - had total revenue of 8.4 billion euros, a 5 percent increase over 2008-09, according to the most recent published accounts.

Elite soccer “has had a very good recession,” said Dan Jones, a partner with Deloitte’s Sports Business Group.

“It’s proven to be one of the last things people want to give up,” Jones said in a telephone interview. “The passion people feel for their football clubs, the entertainment, it brings them release and escape from the everyday difficulties.”

An 8 percent increase in broadcast revenue to more than 4 billion euros was a catalyst for the growth. The Premier League’s rose 7 percent to 1.04 billion pounds ($1.7 billion), becoming the first 1 billion-pound broadcast revenue stream of any domestic league, Deloitte said.

“Pay TV has proven to be one of the big winners in the recession,” Jones said.

Overall, Premier League club revenue reached a record of almost 2.5 billion euros, a 2 percent increase and more than 800 million euros ahead of the second-place Bundesliga, Deloitte said.

‘Greatest Challenge’

Bundesliga revenue rose 6 percent to almost 1.7 billion euros, 42 million more than La Liga, with 57 percent of the Spanish growth driven by Real Madrid and Barcelona, whose collective revenue increased by 69 million euros. Serie A’s revenue also exceeded 1.5 billion euros, with Ligue 1 at 1.07 billion.

Cost control remains the sport’s “greatest business challenge” as the five top leagues’ wages increased by over 400 million euros to more than 5.5 billion euros. Germany (138 million euros) and England (83 million euros) were the only of the “Big Five” to achieve operating profits in 2009-10, while the other three sustained losses.

Among other European countries, the Netherlands (420 million euros), Turkey (378 million euros) and Russia (368 million euros) have the largest revenue-generating leagues, according to Deloitte.

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