For the past 20 plus years, Deloitte has been coming out with their Football Money League report, where they list out, compare and explain the revenues of the top 20 football clubs in the world. The 2021 edition was released last month and some of the insights although not really surprising, got us thinking - will the smaller clubs ever catch up to these big clubs in this money race?
Here's a snapshot from the report depicting the top 20 clubs arranged according to their revenues for the 2019-2020 season. The top-ranked team, FC Barcelona's revenue is almost 4.5 times that of the 20th placed Eintracht Frankfurt. And this is a huge gap especially if you consider it's just the list of 20 biggest clubs in the world. With more than 900 professional clubs across 25 countries just in Europe. You can only imagine the gap that exists in the resources at the disposal of FC Barcelona and let's say a club in the 2nd division of the Swedish football structure or a club in the 3rd division of English Football.
In the last few decades, the footballing world has evolved and progressed like a truly capitalist economy. The rich have kept becoming richer whereas the poor has kept becoming poorer and the gap between the rich and poor just keeps growing. What can be done to actually bridge this gap?
Well, the clubs have to play smarter off the field. They need to understand what factors really matter to their revenues and their growth. They need to think out of the box and create more streams of revenue and become a hot property for potential sponsors. And mainly, they need to start making use of the biggest resource they already have, their own digital presence.
Take the case of Stevenage FC, a third division club in the English Football ecosystem became the most played team on FIFA 20, the virtual game by virtue of sponsorship by Burger King and one crazy out of the box idea. It didn't just lead to a crazy new bunch of followers but it also generated some unexpected revenue for the club as their jerseys were sold out for the first time ever. And now Stevenage FC is a very lucrative product for a prospective sponsor in spite of being a club that plays in the third division.
Clubs have found new ways in the recent past to create a significant impact on their digital following. From savage witty tweets to web documentaries and funny tiktok challenges, clubs have really been brave in experimenting with their digital presence.
We still believe we have just scratched the surface of the capabilities of what the digital world withholds, with time we will only see more and more growth and eventually we see the gaps being bridged. Maybe not immediately, but eventually indeed.