Football has been a beacon of light and hope for many men and women around the world during this period of widespread panic and crisis.
The coronavirus, which has gripped the entire planet for almost an entire year, brought our beloved sport to a grinding halt in March 2020, forcing governing bodies to suspend leagues, and clubs to close their doors to supporters.
Fortunately, football did return, and our heroes kept us entertained throughout the never-ending months of lockdown, giving us something to hold onto, even if we couldn’t cheer them on in the flesh.
While clubs below the Premier League have suffered the financial consequences of the coronavirus outbreak more than our top flight, the elite sides have still felt the pinch – some more than others.
But which clubs have suffered the biggest drop in annual revenue from empty stadiums, in comparison to their data from the 2018/19 season? Thanks to a study conducted by NimbleFins, 90min can reveal the answer.
Some clubs’ publicly available revenue numbers were recorded from their days in the Championship, and these results would skew the eventual findings for the Premier League.
However, we were able to analyse their ticket revenue losses, which proved particularly significant for a couple of clubs. Leeds and Villa were the most affected, losing £14,260,584 and £13,094,781 in ticket sales respectively.
Wolves missed out on £10,653,047 in ticket revenue, while Sheffield United have had to make do without £8,887,973. The least affected club were Fulham, whose lack of attendance has cost them only £7,610,210.
It goes without saying then, that although they do not appear in the rankings, these clubs would be amongst the most heavily affected by the restrictions, given their reliance on ticket sales, rather than sponsorship deals or TV revenue.
Manchester City can dodge just about any bullet, can’t they? The Citizens have ended up being the least affected club by the coronavirus outbreak in the Premier League, experiencing only a 4.16% decrease in revenue in comparison to the 2018/19 campaign.
In fairness, this will largely be down to the amount of TV revenue that the club receives, which, although it has been reduced, remains sizeable. Pep Guardiola’s activity in the transfer market also suggested that Man City were getting by just fine, too.
It might be slightly surprising to see Burnley sandwiched between Man City and Chelsea in a table, but there is some rationale behind this one. Basically, if a club doesn’t enjoy the luxury of huge revenues from tickets and television, then it won’t be hit hard when those incomes are wiped out.
Burnley’s Turf Moor is a cosy stadium, seating less than 27,000 spectators, and ticket prices will obviously be much lower than those of the bigger clubs. So, you can’t miss something you never had, I suppose.
Yeah, Chelsea were placed pretty well for this pandemic. The Blues earn plenty of income from television revenue, Champions League football and other external factors, while hosting matches at the modest Stamford Bridge.
A maximum capacity of just under 42,000 means that although they’ve lost over £22m in ticket sales, they have never been reliant on that income.
If you’d have told West Bromwich Albion fans at the start of the season that they’d be a rose between two thorns in Chelsea and Liverpool, they’d have bitten your hand off. This table might not have been in their thinking, though.
However, it’s good news for the Baggies. Their smaller budgets and restricted spending means they have avoided any big blows this year.
Premier League champions Liverpool made it clear from the offset that money was tight at Anfield, and their decision not to pursue long-term transfer target Timo Werner in the summer (an apparent masterstroke in hindsight) did raise some eyebrows.
Still, a loss of 5.26% in revenue is not bad going at all.
This is why Manchester United will never stop being a massive club. The fact they boast the biggest stadium in the Premier League tells us they should be way higher up this list of affected clubs.
The Red Devils could cease to exist and they’d still generate more cash than most other European behemoths.
Sitting comfortably in mid-table, we have Everton – nothing new there then. The Toffees have lost only 6.12% in revenue in comparison to the 2018/19 campaign, figures that allowed them to splash the cash on big-money signings in the summer.
Now aiming to gatecrash the top four, the Merseysiders have come out of this pandemic smelling like roses.
Leicester City sit in eighth place in this revenue loss table, missing out on 6.17% of their previous annual income. The Foxes have lost fewer than £10m in ticket sales – the 16th lowest total in the Premier League.
Other sustainable incomes mean that Leicester are not so damaged by the empty stadiums.
We’re now approaching the top seven, and Crystal Palace typify the most endangered club in this predicament. The Eagles are a side which are forced to spend big on wages in order to compete, but regularly occupy the middle to lower end of the table.
If you’re not a top-six side, you immediately miss out on big television money, making ticket sales your main revenue. And herein lies the problem.
Southampton are chasing a top-six finish in the Premier League, but they’ve already bagged one in our table. The Saints have recorded losses of 7.88% in revenue from not being able to enter St Mary’s, missing out on over £12m in ticket sales.
The crowd would be absolutely bouncing at this season’s form, too.
There’s now a pretty significant leap to a 9.03% loss, and that is of Brighton & Hove Albion. The Seagulls rely heavily on ticket revenue, and given they don’t have much pulling power for television rights, they’ve been left badly feeling the effects.
A loss of over £12m in ticket sales tells you everything you need to know.
Newcastle United are the first club to break into double figures for revenue lost, as they fall into the ‘Brighton’ category of unsuccessful clubs, big stadiums.
St. James’ Park seats over 52,000 people, and when the stadium is empty, the club leaks money. Mike Ashley needs fans back in the stadium, and fast.
Arsenal are the pantomime villains of this pandemic. The club asked players to take a wage cut so they could avoid making other staff redundant, then went ahead and got rid out a load of favourites behind the scenes – including Gunnersaurus.
To top it off, the Gunners then signed Chelsea star Willian on eye-watering wages, and the Brazilian has been as successful as we all expected. I’m amazed they’re only third, to be honest.
Poor West Ham United – literally. The Hammers play their football in a 60,000 seat Olympic stadium, a home fit for any top European club. Unfortunately, they’re not a top European club, so they don’t accrue anywhere near as much money from TV revenue or external sources as the Premier League’s elite.
This stadium has been a complete disaster from start to finish for West Ham, and it’s only proving more costly week after week.
And finally, top of the pile, we have Tottenham Hotspur. When you’ve spent billions of pounds on a state of the art stadium, designed to host football matches and a whole bunch of public events, the last thing you need is a global pandemic.
The stadium was unbelievably expensive, but built with the caveat that they could make a lot of money back by renting it out for huge concerts and sporting events. Obviously, that’s not happened, and Spurs have been left with a beautiful arena, but no one to enjoy it.