European stadium investments on the rise


UEFA report shows increased stadium investment Image: FC Barcelona

Stadium newbuild and renovation projects in Europe are beginning to move past the design phase towards fruition in 2024, according to a new report released by UEFA.

The European Club Finance and Investment Landscape report highlights the fact that designers have been selected, contractor procurement processes are in progress and projects are breaking ground.

Analysts said in the report that financial outlay on stadium development and other infrastructure projects represents an investment for clubs, as increases in capacity can lead to higher gate receipts, while improved training facilities can help to attract higher-quality players.

2023 saw both renovations and new builds being completed. In Serbia, new 8,000-seat stadiums were built in Loznica and Leskovac, meeting the needs of their respective clubs and communities.

In Germany, meanwhile, the 34,000-seat Wildparkstadion – the new home of Karlsruher SC – was inaugurated in July 2023.

In Spain, two historic stadiums are currently undergoing changes. The summer of 2023 saw FC Barcelona vacate Camp Nou – already the largest football stadium in Europe – ahead of a modernisation project that will increase its capacity to 105,000.

In Madrid, the redevelopment of the 84,000-seat Santiago Bernabeu will be inaugurated officially in the first quarter of 2024, marking the end of a five-year project.

The increased investment in fixed assets reported by Europe’s top-division clubs in 2022 was a tentative sign that investors had started supporting infrastructure development projects again.

A number of significant stadium construction projects have since been completed, and various other announced projects are getting under way, indicating confidence in the market that will ultimately benefit clubs and national associations hosting major tournament matches in the future.

Stadiums are the main type of fixed tangible asset that clubs report, with 18% of clubs including their stadium in their balance sheet and stadiums accounting for 82% of total fixed assets.

UEFA said 12 stadium projects were completed in 2023, unchanged from 2022.

Major tournament catalyst

UEFA also said in the report that hosting major tournaments acts as a catalyst for infrastructure development, with stadiums needing to be built or upgraded in order to meet tournament requirements.

For example, Stuttgart Arena is undergoing upgrade work ahead of EURO 2024 in Germany, with new media areas, changing rooms, hospitality facilities, sound equipment and accessible seating all planned.

This work will not increase the stadium’s capacity, focusing instead on providing facilities commensurate with a modern football experience.

Looking further ahead to EURO 2028 in the United Kingdom and Ireland, Villa Park and the Etihad Stadium in England and Hampden Park in Scotland will all undergo renovations in order to increase capacity and improve facilities.

Meanwhile, Casement Park in Northern Ireland will be completely rebuilt, with the tournament providing the impetus for construction to finally get under way after a lengthy planning approval process and funding uncertainties.

The fact that the hosts of EURO 2024 and EURO 2028 are all mature in infrastructure terms helps to explain why the number of new stadium projects stabilised in 2023 and the number of scheduled completions is expected to fall in 2024.

On aggregate, Europe’s 700+ top-division clubs reported €1.1bn of new investment in fixed assets (mainly stadia) in 2022, which represented a 25% increase on 2021 but was 26% below the pre-pandemic level seen in 2019.

English Premier League clubs again invested the most money in fixed assets in 2022, with Everton FC accounting for half of the total amount invested by those English clubs. Likewise, in France, Paris Saint-Germain FC and Olympique Lyonnais invested more than €140m between them in 2022. Elsewhere, German, Italian and Spanish clubs invested less than 4% of their revenue in fixed assets in 2022.

Levels of investment in tangible fixed assets increased in 2023 among early-reporting clubs, whose new investments totalled more than €800m, up from around €500m in 2022.

The two clubs with the highest overall wage bills, FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain FC, invested a combined total of more than €230m in their stadiums and training facilities. Meanwhile, Olympique Lyonnais, LASK, Liverpool FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC invested more than €50m each in fixed assets in 2023.

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