Football Money League Analysis: Italian Clubs Are Losing Up To €100 Million A Year Due To Empty Stadiums – It’s Time To Act's Adam Scime analyses Italian trends in the Top 20 of the Football Money League.
Accounting firm Deloitte released their annual report on European football revenues on Wednesday for the 2009-10 season, showing the standings for what they so aptly named, expecially in this era, 'The Football Money League'.

Four Italian clubs feature in the Top 20 - Milan, Inter, Juventus, and Roma, but the highest Serie A representatives, the Rossoneri, sit in seventh - while the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona lead the way, German powerhouse Bayern Munich sits in fourth, and English giants Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, and Liverpool round out the top 10.

Deloitte breaks down the teams' revenues, which are ascertained with the absence of transfer fee and associated sales taxes, into three categories - Matchday, Broadcasting, and Commercial.

Empty Stadiums Costing Serie A Clubs

Comparing Italy to the remaining trio of the 'Big Four' of representatives - clubs from England, Spain and Germany, a noticeable trend emerges with a lesser share of the Italian teams' profits coming from matchday revenue, which is largely derived from gate receipts, including season tickets and memberships.

Matchday Revenue 2009-10
(% of Total Revenue)

Milan: €31.3m (13%)
Inter: €38.6m (17%)
Juventus: €16.9m (8%)
Roma: €19m (16%)

Man Utd: €122.4m (35%)
Arsenal: €114.7m (42%)
Chelsea: €82.1m (32%)
Liverpool: €52.4m (23%)
Man City: €29.8m (20%)
Tottenham: €44.9m (31%)
Aston Villa: €29.8m (27%)

R Madrid: €129.1m (30%)
Barcelona: €97.8m (25%)
Atl Madrid: €35.9m (29%)

Bayern: €66.7m (21%)
Hamburg: €49.3 (34%)
Schalke: €25.4 m (18%)
Stuttgart: €30.2m (26%)
No Serie A team in the Top 20 earns even a fifth of their revenue from gate receipts and comparing that to the Premier League, Primera Division and Bundesliga top earners shows that a significantly larger margin of their earnings come from ticket sales.

Using only monetary figures, the top two Italian sides in this context, Milan and Inter, are completely dwarfed by not only the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Arsenal, but also teams that would not be considered among Europe's elite such as Tottenham and Hamburg.

This represents a significant disadvantage for the outfits from the boot-shaped peninsula, even Inter's treble success, which increased their matchday revenue by over 30 per cent, still sees that area only comprise a modest amount of their revenue. On-field success is evidently not the problem, so what is the cause of Serie A's deficiency in this department?

A number of issues affect the bottom line - including low attendances in several cases, such as Juventus, who averaged 22,906 fans per match last season, according to ESPN. In fact, Serie A on average lags behind the Bundesliga, Premier League and La Liga in attendance figures.

Consider that Sky broadcasts every match domestically and also the violence and abuse that has unfortunately reared its ugly head at matches on occasion and thus going to football is not perceived as a suitable family form of entertainment on a wide scale in Italy.

Another issue is the current state of many of the stadiums. Outdated compared to their counterparts in other top European footballing nations, those stadiums are also not owned by the clubs themselves - meaning they miss out on potential revenue from shops, team museums and corporate hositality.

Serie A TV Rights Revamp Will Prompt Change

In 2009-10, broadcasting rights accounted for over half of the revenue earned by Serie A clubs and they also typically earned more overall in that area than teams from the Premier League, but a change in the way that money from the sale of broadcasting rights, both domestically and globally, are distributed will affect the bottom line of Serie A sides.

Broadcast Revenue 2009-10
(% Of Total Revenue)

Milan: €141.1m (60%)
Inter: €137.9m (62%)
Juventus: €132.5m (65%)
Roma: €65.6m (53%)

Man Utd: €128.0m (37%)
Arsenal: €105.7m (38%)
Chelsea: €105.0m (41%)
Liverpool: €97.1m (43%)
Man City: €66.0m (43%)
Tottenham: €62.9m (43%)
Aston Villa: €63.6m (58%)
Previously, individual clubs competing in the top division had the opportunity to sell their broadcast rights in Italy, but beginning with the 2010-11 season they have moved to a collective bargaining type agreement, similar to the Premier League - meaning the supreme Serie A clubs will likely be taking a hit in this department.

For both this season and next, a
1,149 billion deal was signed with Sky for domestic television rights and €181.5 million contract with MP & Silva for international distribution. 40 per cent of that money will be shared between the clubs evenly, while 30 per cent will be allocated based on the team's league standing. The final 30 per cent allocated based on each squad's fan base.

In terms of commercial revenue, which includes sponsorship and merchandising, Serie A sides are able to earn an amount comparable to their English conterparts in the Top 20 (other than the far-reaching Manchester United), so the major dilemma can certainly be highlighted as improving Matchday Revenues.

As Deloitte clearly outline, the best financial models appear to be the clubs who attempt to evenly distibute their money from the three sources of revenue. Indeed, the top three in the Football Money League - Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United - have fairly even income streams from Matchday, Broadcasting and Commercial Revenues.
For Italy's sovereign earners to keep pace with the European upper class it is essential they do not become over reliant on just broadcasting revenues.

Matchday revenue certainly must be addressed, largely by increasing attendances, whether it be through upgrading or possession of stadiums, providing a safe environment, or producing better results on the field.

To their credit, some are already accepting change. The Old Lady of Italian football, Juventus, will have the new 40,000 capacity Stadio Delle Alpi ready for next season, enhancing opportunites for matchday revenue, while Roma's proposed sale and plans for a new stadium represent off the pitch problems that can also provide an occasion to adopt a similar approach. For Milan and Inter, plans to redevelop their San Siro home are up in the air after the country's failed bid to host Euro 2016.

Nonetheless, the prominent Serie A sides must act quickly or face the financial consequences.

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