Every year, financial analysis firm Deloitte combs the revenues of football clubs and amasses their Football Money League list, which ranks each club by their income for the past year. It's a fairly fascinating exercise, especially in light of Financial Fair Play regulations slowly taking effect across Europe.
Yesterday, they released the 2014 edition of the League, the 17th such undertaking by Deloitte, and the news is not particularly rosy for Liverpool. After having the 9th-highest revenue total during the 2011/2012 season, they slipped to 12th last season. That's the club's first season out of the top ten since the turn of the millennium, and represents the continuation of a slow slide down the rankings, having placed seventh in 2009, then eighth, eighth, ninth, and now twelfth since then. Real Madrid maintained their long-standing stranglehold on first place, while Manchester United was the top English club at fourth, falling out of the top three for the first time.
The Impact Of Other Transfers
With the news that Chelsea and Manchester United could be talking about a big Juan Mata deal, it's time to look at the impact other clubs' dealings can have on Liverpool.
They did see a healthy 9% increase in revenues (£206.2 million, up from £188.7 million in 2011/12), but their gains did not keep pace with significant strides by clubs like Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, and most especially Paris Saint-Germain, who all finished behind the English club last year. PSG in particular made huge gains, nearly doubling their revenue from the season before thanks in large part to the financial boon of Champions League football.
Looking at the details in the report bring out some interesting tidbits for Liverpool. Deloitte splits each club's revenue in to three categories: Matchday, Broadcasting, and Commercial. Liverpool actually did remarkably well in the Commercial revenues category, bringing in £97.7 million, better than all EPL sides but those in Manchester, and good for 7th among all the clubs in the Money League rankings.
Where they fall well behind, though, is when you look at the other two categories. Matchday revenues in particular are extremely poor; Liverpool brought in just £44.6 million on matchdays last season, ahead of just Manchester City* among the English clubs ahead of them on the table. Even Chelsea, who consider themselves to be poor in terms of matchday revenue, brought in over £70 million, while United and Arsenal brought in £109 million and £93 million, respectively.
*For some reason Manchester City, despite their 60,000 seat stadium and fiercely loyal supporter base, have long had poor matchday revenues compared to other big clubs. It's little wonder why the club is looking at renovating the stadium as a measure to try and improve their income.
The last category, Broadcasting, is where the benefits of Champions League football really start to become obvious. Liverpool drew a relatively healthy £63.9 million in broadcasting revenue last season, but that number was dwarfed by the four Champions League teams in England. Manchester United and Chelsea both pulled in over £100 million, while Manchester City and Arsenal both made £88.4 million in broadcasting income. These are numbers that will go up across the board with the massive new TV deals signed for EPL and Champions League broadcasting rights in the last year, making it more important than ever to reach that promised land, for the sake of the club's bottom line if for nothing else.
While this may seem like it has a twinge of good ol' Everything's The Worst, we're actually not quite there. That Liverpool is still in 12th despite not having been in the Champions League in so long is a testament to the size and quality of the club, and especially to the work done by Fenway Sports Group since they bought the club and brought it our of the depths of near financial ruin just a few years ago. In fact, Liverpool is the highest-ranked club not to have featured in the Champions League this year, and are one of the few clubs in the top 20 not in that elite company.
This report also serves to highlight what the club has done exceptionally well in, building commercial revenue, and emphasizes what needs to be developed next: matchday revenues. This is where the potential redevelopment of Anfield comes in to play, adding more seating and concession/souvenir services to build up what they can bring in every match.
In any event, this list just adds another goal for Liverpool to shoot for in the next few years: get back in to the top ten clubs in world revenue, and try to pass up some of their English brethren along the way. With some smart planning off the pitch and improved play on it, those are goals that should be perfectly attainable.