After spending all these years covering Roma and the sport in general, I still find it so odd that fans get so up in arms about the financial achievements of their chosen club. I'm sure at some point we've all kicked a ball around, so our admiration for the players is understandable, but how many of us have ever owned an operation as large and as encompassing as a football team? Shit, I left my lemonade stand barren after a few hours when I was a kid, so I have no conception of what it's like to pilot something as gargantuan as professional football club.
But here we are once again discussing the benchmarks of billionaires. This strange fascination does make sense in one immediate and concrete way; the financial well-being of a club directly impacts the type of product they put on the pitch. Unless your owner is a complete miser, money in the till means a better chance for success on the table.
We've discussed Roma's relative standing to her peers many times in these spaces, and despite her lack of titles, Roma have generally been among the top 20 most valuable clubs in the world according to the Deloitte Football Money League. Compiled every year since 1997 (though there was a four-year gap at the turn of the century—they weren't Y2K compliant apparently), the DFML measures a clubs financial well being based on:
Clubs’ ability to generate revenue from matchday (including ticket and corporate hospitality sales), broadcast rights (including distributions from participation in domestic leagues, cups and European club competitions) and commercial sources (e.g. sponsorship, merchandising, stadium tours and other commercial operations), and rank them on that basis.
As we mentioned, the Giallorossi have been a consistent member of the DMFL, ranking in the top 20 in all but three years, reaching their peak (8th) after the 2001-2002 season. While they haven't revisited that lofty height this season, I'm pleased to report that, after a year spent in the wilderness (ranking 24th), Roma have risen back to 15th in this year's poll.
Thanks to their run through the Champions League, Roma’s revenue increased by nearly €80 million from 2017 to 2018, where they raked in a quarter of a billion euros, seeing sharp spikes in commercial and broadcast growth:
Looks like good news all around, but having nearly two-thirds of your revenue tied up in broadcasting underscores the need for a privately owned, club controlled stadium. Without that assurance of matchday revenue, Roma's reliance on the Champions League grows greater, a point not lost on Deloitte:
We expect the club to retain a Money League position next year, having already secured qualification to the Champions League Round of 16. The potential revenue increase from moving to the club’s proposed new stadium is not expected until at least the start of the 2020/21 season, meaning a continued presence and strong performances in the Champions League will be critical if the club are to retain top 20 status in future editions.
So, if it seems like you see the words fourth place around here an awful lot, there's your explanation. Roma cannot yet match the matchday or commercial revenue streams of her peers—indeed, their broadcast, matchday and commercial revenues are all below the DFML averages—so that Champions League broadcast lifeline is essential to keeping them at the adults table.
Despite all the gloom and doom surrounding the club (and yes, I'm aware we're a party to that), Roma are in a good spot, it's just their inability to take that next leap, to become a true power in the global game, that produces so much frustration.
It's like Roma are killing their New Year's Resolution, but they just can't seem to shed those final few pounds. And if you believe this report, getting the Stadio della Roma off the ground (or more aptly, in the ground) may be the magic pill Roma needs to get to their goal weight.