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Deloitte Football Money League 2024

The professionalisation acceleration of women’s football clubs

The 27th edition of the Deloitte Football Money League includes analysis of 15 of the highest revenue generating women’s clubs in European football. Charting a significant rise in revenues, the findings demonstrate the strides being taken to professionalise women’s clubs playing in the top-tiers of European football.

The Money League ranking for women’s football includes 15 of the highest revenue generating women’s clubs in Europe for the financial year ending in 2023. It covers the 2022/23 season and excludes revenue contributions from associated men’s clubs. The ranking is focussed on clubs competing in some of Europe’s key football leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal), for which information was available to us. The revenue of women’s football clubs in other key markets such as Australia, Japan, Norway, Sweden and USA was not made available to us and so is not included in our analysis1. In the future, we hope to provide a more comprehensive view of the global women’s game.

The average revenue generated by 15 of the highest revenue generating women’s clubs across European football in 2022/23 stood at €4.3m. This marks a 61% increase over these clubs’ 2021/22 average revenues (€2.6m) and highlights the steep growth trajectory of elite women’s football across the continent.

Revenue growth at the upper echelons of women’s football in Europe has been accelerated by the increased commercialisation of women’s clubs. Partnerships have leveraged the unique profile of the women’s teams, additional matches have played out at clubs’ main stadia and increased viewership has led to an uptick in broadcast distributions.

On average, commercial revenue accounted for 58% of 14 clubs’ total revenue, followed by matchday 22% and broadcast 20%2. A significant share of commercial revenue continues to be driven through combined central sponsorship agreements for men’s and women’s clubs, (with a value apportioned or separately defined), while a number of women’s clubs have developed exclusive partnership options. Partnerships exclusively struck with women’s clubs are expected to drive significant growth in the future, as they leverage the distinct characteristics of women’s football.

Women’s club analysis

FC Barcelona Femení have remained at the summit of women’s football in Europe, both on- and off-pitch. The club reported €13.4m in revenue for the 2022/23 season, a year-on-year increase of 74%. In 2023, the club won its second UEFA Women’s Champion’s League (“UWCL”) in three years and their fourth successive Liga F title. Another club who maintained their position was Manchester United Women (€8m), who ranked second, driven by a strong commercial performance (€6m). The club qualified for the UWCL for the first time following a second-place finish in the English FA Women’s Super League (“WSL”) in 2022/23. Rising to third, Real Madrid Femenino reported €7.4m in revenue, an increase of 416%. The club generated commercial revenue of €5.8m, with a third consecutive top-three finish in its domestic league.

Manchester City Women (€5.3m) is fourth on this list. The club generated a year-on-year revenue increase of 5%, one of only three clubs (alongside Paris Saint-Germain Féminine and Everton Women) in the top 15 to report less than double-digit revenue growth. The club became one of the first in women’s football to enter a stadium naming rights agreement with baby-care brand Joie, capitalising on the unique commercial appeal of women’s football and its ability to attract sponsors from industries not typically associated with football.

Arsenal Women complete the top five clubs with revenue of €5.3m, a 138% increase year-on-year, and achieved the highest matchday revenue amongst the 15 clubs (€3.1m, 58% of its total revenue). The club hosted three WSL games in 2022/23 at Emirates Stadium, each drawing attendances of over 40,000, and also drew 60,000 attendees for the UWCL semi-final against VfL Wolfsburg Frauen.

Several European clubs are recognising the demand for women’s football by hosting more matches in their main stadia, and driving an uptick in ticket prices. Chelsea Women (6th) reported revenues of €4.1m for 2022/23, an increase of 132% from the previous year, as the club secured their fourth successive WSL title. A third of the club’s revenue was derived from matchday sources, as the club hosted three of its five UWCL matches at Stamford Bridge, alongside the WSL London derby against Tottenham Hotspur. The club also demonstrated the importance of success in European competitions, as they reported the highest broadcast revenue among English clubs, with over 50% of broadcast income attributed to participation in the UWCL, in which they progressed to the semi-final.

What is clear is that there is no one size fits all revenue model when it comes to women’s football. As new opportunities arise, women’s clubs will need to continue challenging the template of the men’s game in order to grow.

At present, there is significant diversity in the way that clubs generate revenue, even within the same league. For instance, in 2022/23 Manchester United Women generated 74% of its revenue through commercial partnerships, while compatriots Arsenal Women earned 58% of revenue from matchday income. This variability is further accentuated, and in part driven, by the difference in broadcast revenue generated by each league. England’s WSL and Spain’s Liga F annual broadcast rights values were c.€8m in 2022/23, approximately eight times that of Italy’s Serie A Femminile (c.€1m), which became fully professional from the 2022/23 season.

In addition, it is important to acknowledge the revenue polarisation within the women’s game. The combined revenue of the five women’s clubs ranked in 11th to 15th position in the Money League (€7.3m) is just over half of FC Barcelona Femení’s total revenue, a similar distribution as in the previous year. As the game continues to grow, disparity will need to be considered to encourage greater financial and competitive balance across both domestic and European competitions.

Other data made available to us by the 15 clubs (but not reported in this publication) shows that no clubs were profitable in 2022/23, a feat that is expected noting that clubs are presently in the growth phase. The women’s clubs’ average wages/revenue ratio stood at 106% (the comparative figure for the top 20 men’s clubs is 59%).

Women’s teams have typically received contributions from their associated men’s club to help bridge the funding shortfall, with the 15 clubs receiving average revenue contributions of €1.5m3. Continuous investment is required to drive further growth and financial sustainability in the women’s game.

Growing the game further

We predict that women’s elite sports will generate global revenues in excess of €1.1 billion in 20243. Football will be the most valuable women's sport, with revenue of over €500m4 expected to be generated worldwide in 2024. As leagues and clubs continue to professionalise across Europe and further afield, we expect that growing viewership and sponsor interest will create opportunities for clubs to further strengthen matchday and commercial revenue. We expect that football clubs, and leagues globally, could account for as much c.26% of the total elite women's sports market in 20243.

In 2023/24, more domestic league matches will be played in the main stadia than ever before. Arsenal Women is scheduled to play five WSL games at the Emirates Stadium, while Chelsea Women and Manchester United Women will play four and two matches at Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford, respectively. We expect that clubs will continue to host a significant number of European matches in their main stadia, especially through the knockout stages of the UWCL.

At the time of writing, Manchester City Women (Joie Stadium), Chelsea Women (Kingsmeadow), and Real Madrid Femenino (Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium) play in dedicated stadia for their women’s club, while Brighton & Hove Albion Women have announced plans for a purpose-built stadium for their women’s club. As women’s football matures, a growing number of clubs may consider dedicated stadia.

We also expect sponsors and partners to continue to express interest in entering agreements exclusively with women’s clubs. These deals offer commercial partners access to a broader demographic and an opportunity to potentially drive greater return on investment in comparison to the men’s game, given they often present a lower cost of entry. In recent years we have seen a number of such partnerships, including Arsenal Women with Stella McCartney, Chelsea Women with Lindahls and FC Barcelona Femení with Rilastil.

As the sport grows, and changes to competition formats and scheduling take effect, broadcast revenues are also predicted to increase. With audience interest, attendances and participation in women’s football at an all-time high in the UK, the WSL’s current negotiations with broadcast partners for its domestic rights from 2024/25 are expected to see a material uplift in value. Additionally, as the UWCL expands to an 18-team competition from 2025/26 along with the addition of a second-tier competition, more clubs will receive UEFA distributions.

Given that the women’s game within the mainstream is at a formative stage, there is a real opportunity to define the sport in a global context through imaginative thinking across all facets, including player welfare, commercial relationships, governance structures and business models. The establishment of the NewCo in England to operate the two professional divisions for women’s football could prove to be a watershed moment for the sport in its growth story.

1 According to the 2023 FIFA Women's Football Benchmarking Report, women’s clubs in the USA reported average revenues of $5m (€4.8m) while those in Australia and Sweden reported average revenues of between $3m (€2.9m) and $5m (€4.8m) respectively for the 2021/22 season.

2 Matchday, Broadcast and Commercial split excludes Paris Saint-Germain Féminine as the club did not provide a split of revenues. 

3 The revenue ranking of the 15 women’s clubs excludes revenue contributions from their associated men’s club, and excludes other loan and equity funding. 

Deloitte TMT Predictions 2024

4 Exchange rate used - €1 = $1.09

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