Champions League Football: Risk, Resilience and Performance
By Gabriele Sabato
A snapshot of the top clubs in Champions League football
With 5 billion fans around the globe, the beautiful game captures more hearts and minds than any other sport on the planet. Competitions like the World Cup, Champions League, and European Leagues cause the world to hold its collective breath for 90 minutes at a time, staking success and sorrow on the fate of a round ball. No other institution can claim to captivate over half the world’s population. Football is everywhere.
This makes football big business. In 2021, the top 30 clubs in the world received €8.2bn in revenue. The retail market for football equipment is estimated to be €1.7bn today, forecast to grow 18.3% annually to reach €3.4bn by 2027.
While fans watch as their clubs compete for gold and glory, the underlying economics of football clubs are rarely brought to the spotlight beyond transfer fee headlines. Yet like any other industry, bringing finance to the fore helps us to grasp the hidden factors driving the decisions behind our beloved clubs. Behind the punditry and highlight reels are stories of triumph, disaster, resilience, betrayal, and redemption.
We sought to demystify the numbers so fans can bridge the gap between football and finance. To do so, we compiled three years’ worth of historical data for top European clubs. Our sample includes the clubs* that reached the Round of 16 knockout stages during the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League season. Using our credit risk assessment platform, we analysed each club’s financial and football performance data to answer important questions that will interest fans and financiers alike, such as:
What is the relationship between financial health and football performance?
How much financial risk does each club bear?
How have clubs responded to the coronavirus pandemic?
Which clubs display financial and footballing resilience?
The report displays the underlying financial risk associated with each club, weaving a narrative that combines the teams’ on-pitch performance, off-pitch headlines, and boardroom decisions. To help visualise the data, we have reproduced the exact dashboard from our credit risk platform.
*LOSC Lille has been omitted from the sample due to a lack of publicly available data. As a replacement we have included Barcelona in the analysis based on some interesting insights and its history in the champions league competition