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European club finances healthier than ever, thanks to Financial Fair Play

European clubs are now making €600 million profits compared to the €1,700 million combined losses in 2011.

Charts shows how club finances have improved dramatically since the introduction of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations
Charts shows how club finances have improved dramatically since the introduction of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations ©UEFA

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin has said that UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations have made European football finances stronger than ever before.

New figures analysing the finances of 718 first-division clubs in Europe, compiled by UEFA’s financial sustainability & research division and which cover the period up to and including December 2017, show that in 2017, for the first time on record, European top-division club football was profitable.

The UEFA President stated: “Thanks to Financial Fair Play, European football is healthier than ever. The €600 million combined profits of the clubs in 2017 is a remarkable improvement on the €1,700 million combined losses in 2011 when UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations were introduced. This clearly demonstrates that Financial Fair Play works.”

The figures also reveal that club balance sheets are stronger than ever before, with assets €7,700 million higher than debts and liabilities, compared to €1,900 million at the start of 2011.

Mr Čeferin added: “This success, this new stability is a result of the work done by UEFA and its member associations in introducing licensing systems including cost control mechanisms which have yielded much improved financial discipline. Financial Fair Play has provided the platform for clubs to control their costs and pay their debts.”

The stability has a broad base. Twenty-nine of the 54 top division leagues were profitable, as compared to just eight when Financial Fair Play was introduced.

The figures also show that European club football has never added so much revenue in one year, with a €1,600 million increase in club revenues in 2017. European club revenues are now seven times what they were 20 years ago.

And the fact that, for the fourth time in five years, revenues increased at a faster rate than wages illustrates that clubs have been remaining prudent and controlling costs as part of the Financial Fair Play ecosystem.

UEFA has not been resting on its laurels, however, and the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations have been updated for the new competition cycle 2018-2021.

“Now is the time to take the next step,” said the UEFA President. “And that’s why we have decided to strengthen the regulations further, to push for more transparency and harmonisation of financial accounting practices.

“The new regulations will further allow UEFA to act more swiftly and anticipate problems before they become too big. For example, when we see that a club has spent over a certain amount on transfers, or when the club has too much debt, UEFA will now immediately react and proactively assess the club's ability to meet the rules in the future.”