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Football League Clubs

As fans returned to stadia in 2021/22, EFL clubs reported total revenue of over £1 billion.

Football League clubs' revenue

 

The wage/revenue ratio for a majority of clubs remains unsustainably high, as do the losses incurred.

 

In 2021/22, Championship clubs recorded a cumulative revenue of £676m, an increase of £76m (13%) since the 2020/21 season. This was predominantly a result of changing club mix, with the six clubs joining the division from the Premier League and League One having an average revenue of £41m in 2021/22, replacing clubs with an average revenue of £27m. Excluding these clubs, the revenue of the 18 consistent clubs actually fell by £5m (1%).

This is in part due to broadcast revenue falling to £382m from a record peak of £456m in 2020/21, when revenue from the deferred matches from the 2019/20 season was recognised. The commercial revenue of Championship clubs increased to £164m in 2021/22 (up 28%), as merchandising, in-stadia sponsorship sales and the hosting of non-football events bounced back following the pandemic, which saw 13 of the 18 consistent clubs report an uplift of at least £1m from these sources.

Similarly, matchday revenue generated by Championship clubs improved to £130m (2020/21: £16m) as football stadia across the EFL welcomed fans back. However, this is still behind pre-pandemic levels (2018/19: £166m).

Clubs in both League One and League Two reported an increase in revenue in 2021/22. League One clubs reported an increase of 71% to £220m, with the average club generating £9m in revenue. Meanwhile, League Two clubs reported an increase of 32% to £124m (an average revenue of £5m per club).

Championship clubs’ losses

 

Operating losses reported by Championship clubs decreased by 10% to £361m in 2021/22, an average loss of £15m per club.

 

The improved financial performance is attributed to the changing club mix, accounting for a £89m decrease in operating loss.

Clubs that participated in the Championship in both 2020/21 and 2021/22 reported an increase of 17% in operating losses (£322m), led by Cardiff City and AFC Bournemouth who reported an increase of £28m and £25m respectively, primarily due to the reduction in parachute payments received by both clubs.

The pre-tax loss reported by Championship clubs in 2021/22 was £283m, a decrease of £9m on 2020/21. However, this loss would have been significantly higher without Stoke City and Coventry City, who recognised profit from loan write-offs of £120m and £29m respectively. Writing-off loans from owners highlights a degree of financial commitment from the club owners, however, the reliance on such loans implies an inability to cover the expenses through club generated revenue.

Excluding these two clubs, the pre-tax loss that competed in the Championship in each year increased 66% to £406m (2020/21: £245m).

As Championship clubs emerge from the pandemic, and a number of club owners continue to invest significantly to subsidise club operations, a continuous spotlight on the financial sustainability of clubs remains a necessity to ensure their long-term future. In recognition of this, the EFL has in place a full-time team responsible for reviewing the position of its clubs in a continuous manner.

Future outlook: Three topics shaping the future of football

 

Regulators, investors and commercial partners are increasingly shaping the decisions of clubs and league. Read more in the links below.

 

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