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Football's figures don't add up

A new report from Jose Maria Gay de Liebana, a football finance specialist based with the University of Barcelona, has outlined the scale of European football’s financial crisis.

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Image: Daniel Ochoa de Olza/AP/Press Association Images

THE GUARDIAN’S MATT Scott has parsed a lengthy report by one of European football’s foremost financial experts, Prof. Jose Maria Gay de Liebana of Barcelona University, urging football’s administrative bodies to take a tougher line with clubs that insist on running enormous operating losses.

Should the current trends in wage growth and spending continue, the report warns, professional football could be faced with the prospect of collapse under the weight of an unprecedented “football bubble crash”.

“Gay’s report details that the cumulative losses of the five richest leagues exceeded €1.5bn (£1.3bn) for 2011‑12. In the five years between 2006‑07 to 2009‑10, the total player pay in the top French league rose from €619m to €790m, being 27.6%. Over the same period total revenues rose by €84m. In Germany, of the €284m extra income that was achieved in those five years, all but €27m of it went to players.”

While La Liga and the Premier League each saw revenues increase at a greater rate than wages over the period of the study, large aggregate losses (counted in the tens of millions) undermine any real claims to financial stability.

In what is probably the survey’s most worrying statistical determination, Gay believes the total income of Europe’s top-tier teams to be somewhere in the region of €13.928bn, as set against total debts of nearly €12.641bn.

In a word: ouch.

Read Matt Scott’s summary of the report here.>

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