THE Scottish Premier League had a better balanced financial model than both Italy’s Serie A and French Ligue 1 in the season which saw Rangers collapse into administration.
That is one of the eye-catching conclusions of the latest Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance which is published today.
The 2013 report, which analyses the 2011-12 season, confirms the continuing dominance of the English Premier League as the highest earning in Europe, although the German Bundesliga is the most profitable.
The SPL was ranked 13th, with a total revenue of £142 million. It is a figure which pales in comparison to the so-called ‘big five’ leagues of England (£2.4 billion), Germany (£1.5bn), Spain (£1.4bn), Italy (£1.3bn) and France (£900m).
But the breakdown of those figures shows that Scotland at least enjoys a healthier percentage of matchday revenue than Italy and France, who are far more dependent on television income.
The SPL took in £71.8m from matchday revenue, some 50 per cent of its total income, with £32.25m from broadcasting contracts and £38m from sponsorship and other commercial deals. In Serie A, just 11 per cent of income came through the turnstiles, while the share in Ligue 1 was just 12 per cent. “It’s a glass half-full or half-empty perspective from Scotland’s point of view,” says Dan Jones, partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte and one of the authors of the report.
“You will see a number of leagues where they are very reliant on broadcast revenue. Italy is a classic example of that, France is another one. They are both heavily reliant on their TV contracts. If they fall away, the clubs are hit by a pretty nasty shock and will have problems. But if your matchday revenue is a lot more solid, as it seems to be in Scotland, then you are not going to fall off a cliff.
“Scottish football does seem to have got its house in a bit more order over the last few years, even though there are still some high-profile clubs getting into difficulties. But generally speaking, the sense I get is that people are recognising they can’t spend more than they can afford. You cut your cloth and manage within the means you’ve got. If you do that, you can still have a sustainable club.
“Where you get into problems is when your wage bill is out of keeping with your revenue. Some clubs, not just Rangers and Hearts, have been burned by that in the past. They are being a bit more prudent about it now.
“The nature of football is that you will always get clubs getting into financial difficulties. Everyone wants to win, everyone is ambitious. The best thing to do is try to be ambitious within a budget and know what your limitations are.
“Looking ahead, when we analyse the 2012-13 season, the revenue total in the SPL will be hit by Rangers’ absence, although Celtic’s creditable performance in reaching the knockout phase of the Champions League will soften the impact.
“Champions League makes a huge difference to Celtic financially and also to Scottish football as a whole when you add it all up. The crucial thing is getting into the group stages.
“Rangers are working their way back up now but, in the meantime, it does give other Scottish clubs an opportunity to push on, compete and perhaps get more revenue from a higher ranking in the league and European football.
“Scotland’s place in the pecking order won’t change that much. It might be in closer competition with the likes of Austria and Denmark, continuing to hold its own in what is a third-tier pack of countries. You have the big five leagues, then you have a second tier with the likes of Russia, Turkey and Holland. Scotland are part of the pack behind that. The comparison with England is always that the TV income for the whole of Scotland is less than it is for a single club in the Premier League. That is very tough to compete against.”
It is going to get tougher, with projected revenue for English clubs set to top £3bn for the first time next season as a consequence of the Premier League’s new broadcast deals.
“Wherever you go in the world, you can’t escape the English Premier League,” added Jones. “If you have said around five years ago, when the economy went into recession, that the £3bn mark would be reached it would have been difficult to believe.
“The figures for the EPL really are staggering and the remarkable thing is that is hasn’t even reached its full potential yet, in terms of overseas TV and commercial income.”
Revenue for major European leagues, 2011-12 (Source: Deloitte Annual Review of Football Finance 2013)