TV revenues, which have enabled the Premier League to grow and become a powerhouse, have so far increased year after year. But this pattern, now disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, is rather worrying for the biggest and best in English football.
A European Premier League is an idea that has been around since the real money has flowed into the first division.
Plans in the background for a European Premier League competition put the organizations on a collision course
Liverpool is reportedly one of the leading clubs contacted for talks about the planned tournament, which is allegedly supported by the world governing body FIFA.
And then last week Sky News announced that the idea for an exclusive European tournament for the footballing Moloch was being presented again, less than a week after the “Project Big Picture” had essentially been kicked to the curb.
UEFA, however, felt encouraged enough to comment on it.
Financiers were also mentioned, suggesting that this time the idea was being seriously experimented with: Wall Street banking giant JP Morgan was to raise £4.6 billion in debt financing, to be repaid with a slice of the TV cake to get the idea off the ground, and other private equity firms such as Spanish finance house Key Capital Partners and American firm Providence Equity Partners were also to be involved.
Liverpool has so far declined to comment, while Manchester United’s deputy chairman, Ed Woodward, told investors at the presentation of their rather gloomy financial figures on Wednesday that he “didn’t know where the story was coming from” before he backed down slightly and declined to comment further.
“It is what makes European football and the Champions League the best sports competition in the world.
In a statement on Tuesday after the revelations, UEFA said: “The UEFA president has made it clear on many occasions that UEFA is firmly opposed to a Super League. The principles of solidarity, promotion, relegation and open leagues are not negotiable.
“UEFA and the clubs have committed themselves to building on this strength and not to destroy it in order to create a Super League with 10, 12 or even 24 clubs, which would inevitably become boring.
UEFA knows that such a power game would cause indescribable damage to FIFA, which is associated with the biggest clubs in Europe, to the Champions League, the competition that generates so much money for the organization, and to the potential domino effect on other competitions such as the Europa League.
When the story became known, there was some uncertainty about whether or not the idea would be supported by UEFA, which was strongly underlined by the UEFA statement.
For UEFA, the figures show how important its most important club competition is.
Of this, 93.5 percent of the revenue was shared among the participating clubs, while UEFA withdrew 6.5 percent, around £159 million from the funds, to 6.5 percent due to significantly increased payments to the clubs from £190 million in 2017/18.
For the 2018/19 financial year, UEFA recorded over £2.4 billion (84 per cent of gross revenue after deduction of competition costs), an increase of over £500 million over the previous year.
But FIFA has its own problems.
With Euro 2020 now Euro 2021 and no assurance that fans will return to the stadiums or that commercial revenue, which is so abundant in normal times, will flow somewhere as normal, the last thing UEFA wants is to challenge the supremacy of the Champions League and its ability to make the big money.