UEFA has released its new-look European Club Talent and Competition Landscape report, looking at current trends in European football.
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The report underlines the strength of European football, showing that more people, 209 million in total, than ever before are watching European football.
The new report is the first two new annual reports evolving from the highly influential and long-running benchmarking report on European club football. This breakthrough edition, showcased in a dedicated microsite, takes a deep dive into the player, coach, and competition landscape, showing how European football functions and laying out the state of play of European football in 2023.
Speaking in the report foreword, the UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said: "As you explore these pages, you'll quickly notice the remarkable strength and vitality of European football, which remains the global leader in game development and continues to captivate audiences worldwide… A staggering 209 million fans supported European professional club football matches from the stands last season alone. It's not just about the big leagues; our game is thriving at all levels, with an impressive 68 million enthusiastic supporters attending grassroots games away from the flashy arenas. This incredible passion and participation showcase European football's profound depth and enduring strength."
The report highlights European football’s continuing emergence from the pandemic. The 2022/23 season marked the first season with a full return to stadiums across Europe after enduring three seasons of multiple restrictions. In a heartening trend, at least 33 top tier men’s leagues recorded higher aggregate attendances compared to the last pre-pandemic full season 2018/19. Not only did supporters return to stadiums, but 14 leagues reported the highest crowds for at least a decade with all-time record crowds recorded in England, France, and Switzerland.
The UEFA President states: "Our unwavering commitment to maintaining the finest sports ecosystem in the world sets us apart and draws these record-breaking numbers. UEFA tirelessly endorses the European sports model and the pyramid structure that links grassroots football at the grassroots level to elite clubs at the pinnacle. This report is a testament to our dedication – over the past decade, an astounding 1,264 clubs have graced the top division of domestic leagues, while, at the same time, 562 clubs have competed in the men's UEFA competitions. European football's core values of open competitions, based on sporting merit, promotion and relegation, remain the pillars that make our sport as strong as ever."
Transfers in focus
The agile nature of the report, which this year features a bespoke website, means that it has its finger on the pulse regarding the latest transfer trends. The report showcases a summer that has seen record levels of transfer investment, reflecting the confidence in European club football that has returned to the market. Saudi Arabian clubs have joined English Premier League clubs as the second major net investing source although the profile of investments varies quite significantly. European clubs spent a total of €7.2bn on transfers this summer (2023), beating the previous record by 3% (summer 2019) and last summer by 24%. This represents an extraordinary bounce back of 88% from the depths of the pandemic (summer 2021) when clubs were wrestling with €7bn of lost revenues.
Other areas covered by the report include increasing injury time, the growing number of substitutions, the greater playing time being afforded to young players and locally-trained players. The report also drills down on the ever-shorter tenure of head coaches (an average 1.31 years) and shows that 66% of European top division clubs changed their head coach at least once last season. The report also shines a spotlight on womens domestic football competitions, highlighting the huge growth in crowds at the top and the strengthening of the womens football pyramid. The UEFA President concludes: "As you explore this reenergised report, you'll find clear evidence that the foundation of European football is now more robust than ever. Whether talking about our talented players, dedicated coaches, passionate fans, or fiercely competitive leagues, every aspect of the game thrives and receives the attention it deserves. Together, we'll continue to safeguard, nurture and elevate the sport we love."