Europe’s leading clubs are in ruder financial health than ever before, according to a study published on Sunday by UEFA, which indicates that top-division football on the continent has become profitable for the first time on record.
In 2017, European clubs reported a combined total of 600 million euros ($693.4 million) in profits after transfers were taken into account, said the study, seen by AFP, into the impact of financial fair play (FFP) rules.
The figure compares to losses of 1.7 billion euros in 2011, the year in which European football’s governing body introduced FFP. Even in 2016, European clubs lost a combined 300 million euros.
The figures are taken from a compilation of the financial results of some 718 top-division clubs across 54 leagues in Europe.
“This clearly demonstrates that financial fair play works,” insisted UEFA’s Slovenian president Aleksander Ceferin.
FFP was brought in to ensure that clubs competing in European competitions do not spend more than they earn, or post losses of more than 30 million euros over three seasons.
Any club violating these rules can face sanctions from UEFA, with punishments including bans from European competitions or bans from signing players.
Among the clubs to have come under scrutiny from UEFA for possible breaches of FFP are French champions Paris Saint-Germain and seven-time European Cup winners AC Milan.
But clubs have also been helped by the fact that incomes are greater than ever before — total top-flight club revenue in 2017 reached a record 20.1 billion euros, up 1.6 billion euros on the previous year.
These revenues have multiplied by seven since 1996, largely thanks to huge increases in television deals.
Accordingly, the study shows that spending on transfers has risen enormously among European clubs, with 95 percent more being committed last year compared with 2014.
However, the study also shows that, for the fourth time in five years, revenues increased at a faster rate than wages.
“This success, this new stability is a result of the work done by UEFA and its member associations in introducing licensing systems including cost control mechanisms which have yielded much improved financial discipline,” added Ceferin.
“Financial fair play has provided the platform for clubs to control their costs and pay their debts,” he went on, saying that UEFA will continue to look to “strengthen regulations further”.