Premier League clubs report first fall in revenue due to pandemic

Coronavirus restrictions saw Premier League clubs report a fall in revenue for the first time, according to a report covering the 2019-20 season.

Annual figures covering the 20 top-flight clubs’ performance off the pitch, produced by Deloitte’s sports business group, showed the lack of matchday spectators in the latter half as the pandemic first struck contributed to a combined revenue decline of 13% on the previous pre-crisis season.

The study also cited hits from a broadcast rebate and delay affecting some other TV and radio broadcast income – along with a 3% increase in wage bills.

They still brought in a combined £4.5bn compared to £5.2bn the previous year, the report said.

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Advertisement Image: The 2019-20 season, dominated by Liverpool, was completed in full despite COVID-19 disruption

However, cumulative pre-tax losses almost hit £1bn as costs linked to the COVID crisis soared.

Deloitte said it was the biggest sum in Premier League history and almost five times the previous season’s £200m figure.

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Dan Jones, of Deloitte’s sports business group, said: “The decrease in revenue in the 2019-20 season is, unsurprisingly, down to the global economic and social disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to have a heavy impact on the 2020-21 season’s financial results when available.

“The full financial impact of the pandemic on the Premier League will depend on the timing of the return of fans to stadia in significant numbers and the ability of clubs to maintain and develop their commercial relationships, in particular at a time when many other industries are suffering.

“Matchday operations are a cornerstone of a club’s business model and fans’ absence will be more fully reflected in the financial results of the 2020-21 financial year.”

Deloitte said that player wages jumped to occupy a record 72% of club revenue in 2019-20 – a figure skewed by the wider hit to earnings.

Jones added: “With the recent announcement of a renewal of the Premier League’s domestic broadcast rights on similar terms to those currently in place, once fans are able to return in full, hopefully during the 2021/22 season, Premier League clubs have the potential to again return to record revenue levels.”