Spain’s La Liga sees revenues fall 19% over pandemic seasons

19 March 2021 2 min. read
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Spanish football looks to be set to face a multi-billion shortfall in funds, after Spain’s top two divisions saw revenue tumble by 19% over the last two seasons. Clubs have sought to offset the losses with more than €700 million in spending cuts.

The fragile financial nature of elite football has been laid bare by a new report from professional services firm PwC. According to the research, clubs in the top two tiers of Spanish soccer are missing out on €2 billion in total income over the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, due to Covid-19 – something which has left their unwieldy operational costs exposed as never before.

While football has long prioritised television broadcasting revenues over ticket sales as its primary source of revenue, 12 months of empty stadiums have shown just how important physical attendance still is to the sport. For 2019/20, income for clubs in the top-flight La Liga and second-tier Segunda Division was down a collective €366 million, seeing it bring in revenues 7% smaller than the estimated total if the pandemic had not hit, of €5.167 billion.

La Liga sees revenues fall 19% over pandemic seasons

While this might not seem so bad, however, this was with only half a season played in front of crowds. For the ongoing 2020/21 campaign, which so far has been played entirely behind closed doors, lost income increased sharply to €1.64 billion. This is 31% less than the total €5.26 billion expected if the season had taken place without the on-going pandemic.

While TV income from both La Liga and European competitions was hoped to offset some of these losses, that also declined by €146 million across both seasons. Even though PwC said this was a decline of “less than 5% compared to estimates,” it also shows that football without fans is potentially thought of as a diminished product.

Meanwhile, though 5% growth in 2019/20 of long-term sponsorships helped offset the slump in merchandising and stadium income, advertising has also taken a hit in the current season. With nobody to target with messaging in stadiums, advertising has suffered a decline of 13% in 2020/21.

PwC carried out the study using La Liga’s economic information from the last five seasons, and using that data it predicted that without the pandemic, La Liga would have enjoyed continued growth in the last two years. It estimated that the aggregated income of La Liga clubs would have increased by 8% and 2% in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons, respectively. As it is, however, clubs have instead been forced to reduce expenses by a total of €766 million to accommodate for their falls in revenue.

Elsewhere, a recent report into Europe’s wealthiest football clubs found they will miss out on revenue of over €2 billion by end of the 2020/21 season. While Deloitte determined that FC Barcelona had retained its position as the world’s wealthiest club, with a revenue of €715.1 million, that represented a decline of more than €100 million over the course of the year.