LONDON (AP) — Clubs in Europe's top leagues defied challenging economic conditions to improve overall profits by maintaining revenue growth and staying in control of rising salaries.
The annual study of football finances by accounting firm Deloitte found that top-division teams in England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France all increased revenues to generate a total of euro9.3 billion ($12.2 billion) in the 2011-12 season.
Deloitte said wages in all these "big five" leagues rose but that "the rate of growth was slightly slower than for revenue, contributing to stable or reducing wages/revenue ratios and an overall improvement in profitability."
"The top end of the game continues to show resilience in the face of wider economic challenges in Europe," the study said. English Premier League clubs generated the highest revenue, up 16% to euro 2.9 billion ($3.8 billion), followed by Germany (euro 1.9 billion) ($2.5 billion) and Spain (euro 1.8 billion) ($2.4 billion). The German Bundesliga was the most profitable league, with wages counting for just 51% of revenues unlike England (70 and Italy (75%), while German top-flight clubs enjoyed a total operating profit of euro 190 million ($249 million). Only England (euro 121 million' $158 million) returned an operating profit of the top leagues.
Revenues in Germany and England will only increase further thanks to improved broadcast deals struck for the 2013-14 season. Top-flight match attendances were up in Germany and Spain, but down in England, France and Italy.
UEFA's new financial regulations, which require clubs wanting to play in the Champions League or Europa League to stop spending more than they earn, apply for the first time in the 2013-14 season and take into the account the previous two years