A UEFA report says Europe’s top clubs have spent a staggering 10.9 billion euros on players in recent years, with wage expenditure continuing to outstrip revenue across the continent.
The report is the sixth of its kind released by the governing body, offering an in-depth review of the "financial performances and positions of 700 clubs" in a period that has seen financial fair play measures gradually implemented in a bid to restrict the spending of teams to a sustainable level.
Analysis of cash flow, domestic competition structures, agent commissions, research on attendance and supporter trends, and a review of the 1,700 head coach changes over three years are also documented.
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said: “This report is unique as it highlights both the tremendous popularity of European club football and the challenges and pressures that this brings.
"With 77 percent of European adults interested in football and attendances of more than 163 million at domestic league matches last season, the report fully emphasizes how much football means to so many people, and the tremendous responsibility that falls upon the football governing bodies and stakeholders alike to make sure that the game remains healthy."
Despite the astronomical figures shown in its findings, UEFA said it has seen “positive signs that financial fair play is having an impact on the European club football landscape,” with figures highlighting reduced lending by club owners and a drop of 600 million euros in losses compared to the previous two years from the 700 clubs reviewed.
Infantino added: “While such figures are encouraging, there is still considerable work to be done in reducing these losses further."
One of the least surprising revelations was the 59 percent increase in wage expenditure from 2007 to 2012, which offset the 42 percent revenue increase enjoyed by European clubs in the same period.
Also covered in the report was the gulf in spending power within the European football hierarchy, with the highest club wage bill more than three times greater than the side 25th on the list.
The increasing turnover of coaches was also displayed, distinguished by an average of 2.7 changes across clubs in the 2011-2013 period.
Infantino concluded: “When we look at the last three years of club football and see almost 2,000 head coach changes and combined club losses of more than 4 billion euros, it is clear that the football family needs more stability, less short-term thinking and better financial sustainability.”