As they do every year, the fine folks at Deloitte released their Football Money League, a rundown of the world’s 20 most lucrative football clubs based on an analysis of their various revenue sources. And as we do every year, we pour over the facts and figures relentlessly, as if they have any bearing on our own bottom line and general well being. Why do we care so much about the finances of our favorite clubs? I’m still not certain, but it is a subject we’ve tackled in the past. To the extent that the fiscal health of Roma precipitates success on the pitch, which in turn boosts our collective endorphins, then I suppose the interest makes sense.
However, since you’re reading this, I’ll presume you’re like me and publications such as these pique your interest, and fortunately for us, there were several interesting developments on this year’s list. While Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid occupy the top three spots, just as they did during the inaugural list 20 years ago, their revenue has increased seven fold, with the Red Devils regaining the top spot for the first time in more than a decade; quite the feat when you consider their on-the-pitch struggles, but with €689 million in revenue, 53% of which comes from commercial sources, the United lore is as strong as ever.
For the full list, I’ll refer you here, but the real interesting tidbit as far as we’re concerned is this: With €218.2 million in revenues, 71% of which came from broadcasting, thanks in part to a €40 million injection from advancing in the Champions League, Roma retained their 15th place on the list, putting them ahead of AC Milan for the first time in this publication’s history.
The one glaring omission you’ll notice is the n/a under shirt sponsor, as Roma has kept their shirts clean for several years running. While some may see this as a foolishly missed opportunity, I applaud them; Roma’s kits are too pristine to be besmirched by some multinational corporation. Besides, it’s not as if Chevy is beating down their down with a Manchester-sized offer.
The other spot of bother is the source of Roma’s revenues. With 71% coming from broadcasting, Roma is extremely top heavy in this regard. Compare them to Manchester United, the cream of the crop, who only receive 27% of their revenue from broadcasting, and the disparity becomes clear. The majority of United’s skrilla comes from merchandising, a steadier and seemingly endless stream of funds, a fact sure to make James Pallotta erect with envy.
Indeed, when we look at the clubs above Roma, none approach Roma’s reliance on broadcasting revenue; the closest is Atletico Madrid at 61%. Needless to say, Roma’s place among the heavyweights is extremely, if not overly, reliant on qualifying for and advancing in the Champions League. With that assurance, Roma could be short shrifted tens of millions of euros, not only jeopardizing their place on this list, but their simple ability to compete in the league.
On the plus side, the club’s revenue has nearly doubled over the past five years, and with any luck, that upward trajectory will continue and hopefully accelerate if they ever the Stadio della Roma off the planning pages and onto the ground.
Roma is in good shape, there is no doubt about that, but can they make it to the next level?