Championship Finances - Part 1: Revenue

As Part 1 of my review I will be focusing on revenue, both at the aggregate level and on a club-by-club basis. Part 2 will provide a review of club expenditures and costs, and Part 3 will focus on the profitability and viability of Championship clubs going forward (including a look at where each club stands in terms of FFP).

The figures that I use have been obtained from the clubs financial disclosures but I have had to make a few financial adjustments in order to standardise the figures / categories.

Firstly, for the 2011/12 season, total league revenue has increased to £467m – an impressive increase of 13% on the previous season. West Ham Utd generated the greatest revenue at £46m (helped in part by the receipt of parachute payments) with Birmingham City finishing a distant second at £39m.

The three clubs that won promotion to the EPL (Reading, Southampton and West Ham) generated an average of £29.6m each – well above the league average of £19.5m.

Doncaster Rovers, who finished bottom of the league and were relegated with just 36 points from their 46 matches, only generated £8.2m from all of their activities as a football club. In comparison, the ambitious Brighton & Hove Albion generated 8.6m in commercial revenues after moving into their new £90m Amex Stadium.

The ”Other” category is only applicable to Reading who generated a tidy £5.2m through their Madejski Stadium hotel operation.

Clubs that are relegated from the Premier League receive a form of compensation, known as the parachute payment, that aims to allow clubs to absorb the resultant revenue losses. At present, clubs receive £48m over four years (Year 1 – £15m, Year 2 – £17m, then £8m the next two seasons).

For the 2011/12 season, the average revenue for the seven clubs in receipt of parachute payments (West Ham, Birmingham City, Blackpool, Hull City, Burnley, Middlesbrough & Portsmouth) was £29m, with the other seventeen clubs generating an average of just £16m.

Although many have criticised the practice of compensating clubs who are relegated from the EPL (former Barnsley manager Keith Hill called it “rewarding failure”), from the 2013/14 season, parachute payments are set to increase to around £59m, albeit with a slightly changed payment structure.

The FA and Richard Scudamore have refused to budge on their proposals for higher parachute payments. The argument against the payments, that they effectively create a 'Premier League 2' within the Championship, is well founded when we look at the revenue differentials between Championship clubs.

Each club not in receipt of any parachute payment receives an annual fixed sum of £2.3m for participating in the Championship, known as the 'Solidarity Payment'.

It is unlikely that the Championship clubs will be able to renegotiate any deal with the Premier League which would allow a more equitable distribution of Premier League TV rights. Parachute Payments are governed by a formula contained within the 'Founder Members Agreement' and are directly related to the amount that the Premier League generates through TV rights, whereas Solidarity Payments (which were negotiated in separate talks) aim to develop youth and community projects in teams outside the EPL.

However, it is only fair to point out that since the 2009/10 season, only two of the nine clubs that have been relegated from the EPL, and have benefited from the parachute payments, have subsequently won promotion back to the top tier.

The average attendance of a Championship match was 17,496, representing a 65% utilisation of total capacity. In comparison, for the same year, Premier League fixtures had a 95% utilisation.

West Ham, despite playing in the second tier of English Football, boasted an impressive 88% utilisation of Upton Park on match days. At the other end of the spectrum, Barnsley (45%) typically failed to fill up half of their stadium.

Only three clubs (West Ham, Southampton and Leeds Utd) generated over £10m in ticketing and match day revenues. Doncaster Rovers and Barnsley struggled to pass the £2m mark.

Total commercial revenue (shirt sales, memorabilia etc) across the league increased slightly to £115m, with the more traditional clubs generating substantially more than others. West Ham managed their commercial activities pretty well considering their previous relegation, with their retail and commercial operation only experiencing a £3.5m drop in revenue.

Although it doesn't add much in terms of a visual aid, I thought I'd include the final league table alongside the respective revenue figures.

The top six clubs (those who were automatically promoted or made it to the play-offs) generated 40% of the total league revenue (excluding Portsmouth and Coventry City who haven't released their financial statements due to the ongoing financial problems they are experiencing) - a significant proportion of the total league revenue and obviously a key factor in making the final push for the Premier League.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of my review of the Championship finances where I will be focussing on club costs and expenditures (including the much debated wage cap). 

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