Spanish football I leave the crisis behind a few years ago, although, like other sectors, it still has some scars. But the general image of the industry is very different from that of five years ago: rising incomes, better economic management and a solvent financial position. "One of the great levers of change has been the controls imposed by the clubs. Economic rules that have achieved healthier accounts and a sustainable position, "explains José Guerra, corporate operations director at LaLiga.
This situation is supported by a series of favorable data recorded in recent years, especially among Primera teams, who have tightened their belts and see the results. Thanks to this financial rationality, the weight of the balloon industry in the Spanish economy has been strengthened. In the 2016-2017 season, it generated 15,688 million euros, equivalent to 1.37% of GDP, double that of four years ago, according to a study by PwC for LaLiga. "It has become an industry and a product that is used as an added value in other economic sectors," says Jordi Esteve, partner in charge of Economics at PwC.
The ball industry generates a wealth of 15,688 million, a 1.37% of GDP according to PwC
Another sign of financial strength is the reduction of club debt with the Treasury. Specifically, it has gone from 681.85 million in 2011 to 217.75 million in 2017, according to a report by the Sector Observatory DBK de Informa published on Monday. "In the first one, it's five times less than three years ago," says Juan Ortín, director of the Sectoral Observatory DBK Informa. The reduction of these commitments also shows legacies of the past, since the debt that still exists (and that would be only 83 million in First and Second if only the deferred debt is accounted for) is due mostly to clubs in bankruptcy without closing, according to LaLiga sources.
This deleveraging has been achieved in part thanks to an adjustment of costs. These lower expenses do not refer to the reduction of salaries, but are related to avoiding disproportionate investments or the refusal to increase the debt without feasible payment plans. All this has facilitated the continued obtaining of benefits. According to Informs, Real Madrid was the club that obtained greater gains before taxes in the last season: 42.98 million euros. They are followed by Sevilla (33.69 million), Real Sociedad (28.77 million), Leganés (21.04 million) and Barcelona (20.14 million). There were also clubs with losses, one of First and nine of Second. The one that presented the worst results was Valencia (33.74 million red numbers), followed by Córdoba (5.04 million), Lorca (3.31 million) and Huesca (3.27 million).
The salaries in the First Division are equivalent to 64.9% of the income generated
"The financial control seeks that there are no losses, but in a timely manner there may be, although it is corrected in subsequent years," says Guerra, who explains that there may be variations in the accounts depending on sports results. For example, when a club goes up there are extraordinary expenses for the payment of premiums, but with the increase in the budget for the following season this situation is reversed. In the opposite case, the teams that fall to Second or leave European competitions see their income reduced and have to adjust their structure.
Among the differences in this sector with respect to other economic activities is the high percentage that is dedicated to personnel spending, mainly to the salary of players to retain talent. The average of Primera equipment is at an expense of 64.9% of revenues, according to Informa. LaLiga does not impose any limit and the only obligation is that there are no losses to avoid insurmountable imbalances in the medium term. "If now a greater part of the income is dedicated to the wage bill, it is because the accounts of the clubs are more healthy and they have to pay less debt", defends Guerra.
Despite this, UEFA marks at 70% the maximum weight that should have the salary mass in relation to the budget. A red line that surpass some Spanish clubs: the Valencia (79%), the Barcelona (76.5%) and the Seville (71.2%), according to the study of Informa. Below the average of Primera teams, for example, were Athletic Bilbao (60.7%), Real Madrid (57.5%) and Leganés, who only devoted 40.8 to this game. %, which allowed him to be one of the clubs that obtained a greater benefit despite its size.
Real Madrid and Barcelona consolidate their leadership as the richest clubs in the world
The growth of the wage bill runs parallel to the improvement in revenues, which increased by 15% annually in recent years. According to the Informa study, the remuneration of the First and Second teams of the last season exceeded 4.1 billion (including transfers), 18.4% more than the previous season. A figure that LaLiga sources responsible for making their own report say will be corrected upwards and exceed for the first time the 4,500 million. Of this amount, what is received for television rights is what weighs most in the billing of the clubs (45.2% in First). "For 12 Primera teams, this game represents more than 70% of their income," explains the director of the Sectoral Observatory DBK Informa.
Thus, with this financial balance, Spanish football enjoys good health, also compared to the rest of the major leagues. According to the Football Money League 2019 report by Deloitte, Real Madrid and Barcelona are the two clubs with the most revenue in the last season. In addition, Atlético de Madrid is 13th and Sevilla was ranked 27th. "The big three in Spain have achieved significant growth, especially in the commercial operations heading [patrocinio, merchandising, giras de pretemporada…]. In fact, these revenues account for more than 70% of the growth of Real Madrid and around 60% of Barcelona and Atlético, "says Jorge Bujía, head of Sports at Deloitte.