Uefa sees revenues tumble by £700 million in pandemic year

04 June 2021 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read
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The latest financial reporting from European football’s governing body has revealed a deficit of more than £63 million. The financial year ending in 2020 saw Uefa’s revenue restricted significantly, with the postponement of Euro 2020 in particular causing a sizeable financial hit.

The Union of European Football Associations, commonly known as Uefa, is one of six continental confederations of world football's governing body FIFA. The administrative body for football consists of 55 national association members across Europe.

Due to its annual income from the hosting of club tournaments such as the Champions League and Europa League, coupled with European tournaments for male and female national teams every four years, the body has a relatively stable financial cycle. The last European Championships for male teams took place in 2016, for example, so revenue hit £3.95 billion in Uefa’s 2015-2016 financial year – higher than non-Euro years, such as 2018/2019 when revenue sat at £3.3 billion.

Uefa sees revenues tumble by £700 million in pandemic year

By that standard, the 2019/2020 financial year should have seen a solid economic performance for Uefa. However, with Covid-19 restrictions meaning the body eventually opted to suspend its flagship continental tournament, Uefa has recently revealed it made a loss in 2020. With revenue from the 12 months leading to the end of June restricted to £2.6 billion – around £700 million less than the previous year – the organisation eventually posted a deficit for the year of £63.8 million.

The postponement of Euro 2020 – which will now take place in June 2021, but is still oddly labelled “Euro 2020” – had more of a knock-on effect on the balance-sheet than just falling ticket sales and broadcast income, however. The cost of the tournament rose by 50% to around £3.28 billion because of accrued expenses, while deferred income more than doubled to £2.05 billion.

Following the release of its statement, Uefa said that a series of measures, including a temporary salary reduction for top management, delivered £29.3 million in savings, with a similar figure expected for 2020-2021. Specifically, UEFA's compensation committee endorsed a 20 per cent salary reduction for senior management over three months from May to July 2020. At the same time, a headcount freeze was put in place from April 2020.

While such measures, and the depth of Uefa’s pockets, mean it can absorb the losses this time, it is now keen to kick on and recoup as much of that delayed income as it can As such, it has proven determined to push ahead with the international tournament, something which has seen friction between the body and a number of the European hubs which were due to host games this summer.

Months before the tournament was due to begin, Uefa officially stripped Dublin of its hosting of four Euro 2020 matches, with the games being moved to St Petersburg and Wembley. The move came after the Irish Government did not bow to pressure to allow 25% spectator attendance for each game.

Elsewhere, similar issues came up in Munich and Bilbao. However, in those cases, the German Government did eventually provide the sufficient assurances needed, while there was an element of success for the Spanish football federation in ensuring its games were moved from the Basque region to Seville, where the Covid-19 outlook was reportedly better.