DFL coffers not sturdy as pre-COVID level


DFL revenues 2021-2022 Image: Coliseum GSVA

Total income from German men’s soccer’s top two divisions increased by 10.5 percent in the 2021-2022 seasons but is still significantly down on revenue secured before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

‘Sportcal’ stated that last campaign, the 36 clubs across the Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga brought in €4.48 billion ($4.89 billion) in revenue – up from €4.05 billion in 2020-2021 but still substantially short of the record total of €4.8 billion set in 2018-2019, the last campaign before COVID-19 hit with all its accompanying financial impact.

Frankfurt (Germany)-based the Bundesliga, sometimes referred to as the Fußball-Bundesliga or 1. Bundesliga, is a professional association football league in Germany. At the top of the German football league system, the Bundesliga is Germany’s primary football competition.

The 2. Bundesliga is the second division of professional football in Germany. It was implemented 11 years after the founding of the Fußball-Bundesliga as the new second division for professional football. The 2. Bundesliga is ranked below the Bundesliga and above the 3. Liga in the German football league system.

‘Sportcal’ further stated that in 2021-2022, the 18 clubs in the top-tier Bundesliga brought in €3.61 billion while the second tier secured €867 million in revenue (a record for the 2.Bundesliga). This meant that German professional soccer generated over €4 billion in income for the sixth year in a row.

In total, the Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) has now measured that the three seasons affected by the pandemic – 2019-2020, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 – had a total shortfall in revenue of €1.35 billion compared to the 2018-2019 income figure.

Frankfurt (Germany)-based the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga GmbH is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Die Liga – Fußballverband. The DFL is responsible for entire operating business of the Ligaverband (parent company of DFL), including the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga leagues. The Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the DFL is Reinhard Rauball.

For the Bundesliga’s 18 sides, that €3.6 billion – up from €3.47 billion in 2020-2021 but down from €4.02 billion in 2018-2019 – came from match revenue, advertising, media revenue, transfer activity, merchandizing, and other takings.

The match revenue was €276 million, more than 12 times the equivalent figure from the previous season (unsurprising, given that most of 2020-2021 was spent with no matchday crowds). 2021-2022 did for some periods in the early part of the season have reduced attendances, however, meaning 2018-2019’s figure of €520.1 million remained comfortably out of reach.

The media rights revenue declined from €1.66 billion in 2020-2021 to €1.38 billion last season.

This came partly because of the new domestic rights agreements that came into effect at the start of the last campaign and that were struck in July 2020, right in the middle of the pandemic.

Overall, the current four-year domestic deals bring in lower revenue for the 36 clubs than the previous agreements, €4.4 billion over four seasons as opposed to €4.64 billion over the same period from 2017-2018 to 2020-2021.

The decrease is also partly due to the structuring of the deals. Under the terms of the previous rights arrangements, the broadcasters paid more during the last season, 2020-2021, than on an average during the first few years, meaning the contrast to the first year of the new cycle in 2021-2022 is sharper.

In addition, the DFL noted that some broadcast revenues secured by the German sides (Bundesliga teams RB Leipzig and FC Bayern Munich) in the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) European competitions of 2019-2020 were officially included in the financial results of 2020-2021, meaning that the season’s final income statements were inflated because of such timings.

As percentages of the €3.6 billion media rights revenue fell from 47.7 percent to 38.2 percent, while the matchday income rose from 0.6 percent to 7.6 percent.

Advertising and sponsorship revenue rose year-on-year in 2021-2022, from €835 million to €929 million, as did other takings, from €305 million to €389 million.

Transfer takings, meanwhile, fell for the third year in a row – having risen for six seasons consecutively before that.

In terms of expenditure, meanwhile, the 18 Bundesliga clubs spent €3.8 billion in 2021-2022, up slightly from the 2020-2021 figures of €3.76 billion.

This was due to minor increases in the costs of administrative and commercial staff, a slight uptick in transfer fees and another in the cost of match operations.

All this meant that, after tax, the Bundesliga lost €195 million last season, as opposed to €288 million in 2020-2021.

For the 2.Bundesliga, the record overall income represents a significant rise from the total of €576 million secured in 2020-2021.

Again, this came partly because of a substantial increase from the previous season in the matchday revenue secured – €125.6 million as opposed to just €13.1 million.

There were also increases in revenue from advertising, transfers and merchandizing, while on the other hand – just like in the top-tier league – media rights income fell.

That latter component saw revenue fall from €287 million to €257.9 million.

Again, as with the top-tier Bundesliga, media rights income as a percentage of total takings fell, while the matchday revenue rose.

Expenditure in the 2.Bundesliga rose to a record high, up to €877 million from €610 million in 2020-2021.

Observed Hans-Joachim Watzke, Speaker of the DFL Executive Committee, said:“In the light of these figures, it is possible to talk about a slight economic recovery, but it is not time to give the all-clear just yet, because the Bundesliga and the 2. Bundesliga are still a long way off the pre-coronavirus level overall. The league and the clubs are going to have to find ways of evolving and of maintaining the appeal of the competitions, as well as our international sporting and economic competitiveness whilst also protecting the unique characteristics of German soccer.”

He added, “That means we should not simply jump on board with every global development, but instead must forge our own path. In my view, standing still can never be an option, because standing still means going backward.”

The DFL has also revealed that in 2021-2022 German professional soccer paid €1.37 billion in taxes and duties.

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