Research Weekly – BDO Football Survey

The unwavering appeal of English Premier League football, and the domestic and international broadcasting revenues it generates continues to drive the divisions of wealth in football in England.

In the first of a new regular look at areas of research into the business of sport around the world that have relevance and lessons for sport in Ireland, we are sharing today BDO’s annual survey of English Football Club Finance Directors.

The survey was undertaken among 50 clubs from across the Premier League, the Football League and the Scottish Premier League and covered areas including the reliance on different kinds of funding, the current view of their financial position and renewed investor appetite for buying into clubs.

“On the investor side, increased appetite and international diversity of ownership appear to be a natural reflection of the global appeal of English football,” according to Ian Clayden, Head of Professional Sports at BDO in London.

“Increased wealth from enhanced media rights and equity investment often leads to the perception that football is ‘all about the money’, and in fact, we may start to see smaller but more expensive first team squads as clubs sacrifice quantity for quality.”

“However, in response and with a need to attract top talent as well as exploit a lucrative profit stream, clubs appear to have a financial justification for further investment into youth development.”

“Only 14% of our respondents across all the divisions believe that the enhanced EPL broadcasting revenues have had a negative impact on their club.”

“Clearly this is causing some wage and transfer fee inflation (which may or not be sustainable long term) but one might expect market forces and Financial Fair Play regulation to correct this if necessary.”

“Football clubs are dynamic organisations and will continue to adapt to their environment with an unwavering commitment to balancing the interests of all of their stakeholders. As the new season kicks off, we should not lose sight of the fact that on the whole, the sector remains both healthy and exciting.”

BDO in Ireland has a successful sports section headed up by Ciaran Medlar and while most of the numbers talked about in the report, particularly relating to the Premier League would be off the charts as regards Irish sport there are lessons to be learned in terms of how the clubs see themselves moving in the future and how ‘quality over quantity’ in terms of squads playing in England or Scotland may impact upon the talent stream coming through from Irish clubs.

The FAI’s rolling out of the U19, U17, U15 and in future U13 national leagues will strengthen the game here in terms of visibility of players though whether they end up more likely to play in Germany or France as opposed to England due to Brexit is also an issue for the long term and one which is touched upon by the report.

A Copy of the full report can be downloaded from here.

Join us next week for the publication of a new report from Deloitte into the Economic Impact of Irish Horse Breeding and Racing.

BDO and the FAI are among the more than 220 organisations that play an active part of the Sport for Business community.  

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