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Deloitte: Football finance overhaul “desperately needed”

Forget Christmas – those with a nose for finance look forward to the release of Deloitte’s annual football report like no other day of the year. Ashley Brown, the FSA’s head of supporter engagement and governance, has been up since the early hours flicking through its pages. Here are his highlights…

Deloitte’s annual football finance report is out and those who pay close attention to such things will notice that it becomes a little more critical each year when it comes to football, finance and sustainability.

The report notes that a salary cap set at 70% of revenue at each club would have reduced 2018/19 operating losses by £308m “whilst almost entirely wiping out the combined pre-tax loss recorded by Championship clubs”.

“More rigorous and robustly enforced regulation than the EFL’s existing rules is required to force clubs to act more responsibly and save them from themselves,” say Deloitte. “change is needed desperately, both collectively, and in many cases individually.”

As the FSA has continued to highlight, the game must strengthen the way in which it is regulated and COVID-19 is shining a harsh light on this. Hopefully this will be the trigger for a reset of football, in particular finances and player wages. The latter has to come under control if clubs are to move towards a sustainable model.

The FSA has been pushing a set of reform proposals for the last two years and we’re developing those to encompass solidarity, wage caps, financial fair play – the demise of Bury FC and COVID-19 have opened the doors on these discussions. Our ideas have the backing of MPs and the FA Council.

The report also highlights the great opportunity there is in the current game, not just for growth but for some far more progressive thoughts on ownership and how the women’s game could be developed globally.

Deloitte also look at climate issues and consider how other sports have led the way in this area. At the FSA AGM last year we agreed to “support, develop and lead projects across football that look to improve the environmental impact of the game and work with supporters to raise awareness of environmental sustainability”. We’d like to work with the football authorities in this area.


  • Premier League wages outpaced revenue growth for second year in a row.
  • Top-flight clubs as a whole reported an operating profit but almost half of the clubs recorded pre-tax losses.
  • The revenue gap between the “big six” and other clubs continues to widen.
  • Premier League, Championship, League One and League Two all reported record revenues.
  • 30% of Championship revenue is made up of parachute payments to seven clubs.
  • Championship wages to revenue ratio is at 107% with half of the clubs in excess of 100%. Premier League is at 61%, League One at 80% and League Two at 78%.
  • Eight Premier League clubs reported ratios in excess of 70%, the warning threshold set by UEFA Financial Fair Play.
  • Championship clubs reported record operating losses (£382m) for the fourth consecutive season. Only two reported operating and pre-tax profits.
  • League One pre-tax losses came in at £22m (down from the previous year as promoted clubs took big losses with them). League Two losses increase from £10m to £20m.
  • Premier League net debt rises to £3.5bn (around two-thirds of combined revenues).
  • Championship net debt is £1.1bn.

Read more about Deloitte’s annual review here.

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