Tuesday, May 7, 2013

UEFA Prize Money - Rhapsody In Blue

The Europa League has long been regarded by leading clubs as a poor relation to the far more lucrative Champions League, but Chelsea’s prodigious efforts after parachuting in to the junior competition might just give pause for thought, as they will end up earning more from Europe this season than any other English club.

Although they earned €5 million less than Manchester United from the Champions League after exiting at the group stage, they will receive at least €6.5 million from the Europa League, even if they lose the final. If they repeat last season’s victory in the Champions League, the sum earned will rise to around €9 million.

This means that Chelsea will receive at least €40.9 million (Champions League €34.4 million + Europa League €6.5 million), rising to as much as €43.4 million if they win the Europa League. Of course, the bad news is that this will still be significantly less than last season’s €59.9 million for the Champions League triumph - though the blow will be somewhat softened by money from the UEFA Super Cup (€2.2 million) and the FIFA Club World Cup ($4 million).

The other three English Champions League qualifiers should still be smiling though, as they have all actually earned more money this season, thanks to a substantial increase in the available prize money (around 22%).

Manchester United’s income rose €4.1 million to €39.3 million, though the difference falls to €2.9 million once the €1.2 million they received from dropping down to the Europa League in 2011/12 is taken into consideration. Similarly, Manchester City’s income increased by €5.8 million to €32.4 million, reducing to €4.6 million after deducting last season’s €1.2 million from the Europa League. Finally, Arsenal will receive €34.5 million, which is €6.2 million higher than the previous season.

As an aide-mémoire, the money for UEFA’s two tournament is divided into two parts: (a) prize money based on participation and results; (b) TV (market) pool.

Prize Money – Champions League

Each of the 32 teams that qualify for the Champions League group stages is guaranteed a participation base fee of €8.6 million even if it loses every single game. There is also a performance bonus of €1 million for each victory in the group stage plus €500,000 for a draw. So if a team manages to win all six of its group matches, it will get €6 million on top of the base fee.

If a team qualifies for the first knock-out round (the last 16), it is awarded a further €3.5 million, while there are additional performance prizes for each further stage reached: quarter-final €3.9 million, semi-final €4.9 million, final €6.5 million and winners €10.5 million. So if you go all the way and win the trophy, you would earn a total of €37.4 million (not counting the TV pool share), which is up from €31.5 million in 2011/12.

Prize Money – Europe League

The principle is the same in the Europa League, though the sums involved are much smaller. Each of the 48 clubs involved in the group stages receives a participation base fee of €1.3 million. In addition, there is €200,000 for each win and €100,000 for each draw in the group stage. A new addition this season, presumably to encourage clubs to give their all, is qualification bonuses for teams that progress to the round of 32: group winners earn €400,000 and runners-up €200,000.

Turning to the knock-out stages, clubs competing in the round of 32 will receive €200,000 each, clubs in the last 16 €350,000, the quarter-finalists €450,000 and the semi-finalists €1 million. The Europa League winners will collect €5 million and the runners-up €2.5 million.

That’s now a pretty good incentive, compared to the €3 million paid to Atlético Madrid, the 2011/12 winners. In fact, the winning club could now receive a maximum of €9.9 million, 54% up from last season’s €6.4 million.

Although the Europa League’s 2012/13 prize money is higher as a proportion of the Champions League (26% v 20%), the gap between the two is actually growing (€27.5 million v €25.1 million).

Nevertheless, it can still be a very useful boost to clubs like Chelsea that drop down from the Champions League, especially if they reach the final, which is worth either €6.5 million or €9 million (assuming €2 million for the Europea League TV pool, based on previous years). It does require Stakhanovite efforts on behalf of the playing squad, which may jeopardise their chances in their domestic league, but, as the figures above indicate, it can make a big difference.

TV Pool

In addition to these fixed sums, the clubs receive a share of the television money from the TV (market) pool, which is allocated according to a number of variables. First, the total amount available in the pool depends on the size/value of a country’s TV market, so the amount allocated to teams in England is more than that given to, say, Spain, as English television generates more revenue. Clubs can also potentially do better if fewer representatives from their country reach the group stage, as the available money is divided between fewer clubs.

In the case of the English clubs in the Champions League, the allocation works as follows:

(a) Half depends on the position that the club finished in the previous season’s Premier League with the team finishing first receiving 40%, the team finishing second 30%, third 20% and fourth 10%.

(b) Half depends on the progress in the current season’s Champions League, which is based on the number of games played, starting from the group stages.

However, the 2012/13 allocation for the element based on the previous season’s Premier League finish was changed following Chelsea’s Champions League win as follows: Manchester City (1st) 30%, Manchester United (2nd) 25%, Arsenal (3rd) 15%, Chelsea (5th) 30%. So, the first three clubs lost a portion of their TV pool following Chelsea’s remarkable success.

TV Pool – Allocation

The TV pool allocation methodology can produce some results which seem strange at first glance, e.g. Manchester United and Arsenal were both eliminated at the last 16 stage, but United received €4.3 million more than Arsenal (€23.2 million v €18.9 million). 

This is entirely due to United finishing one place ahead of Arsenal in the 2011/12 Premier League, so receiving 25% of that half of the TV pool (€10.8 million), compared to Arsenal’s 15% (€6.5 million). Of course, both clubs received exactly the same (€12.4 million) for this season’s Champions League progress, which incidentally was more than the €9.3 million for Chelsea and Manchester City, who both went out at the group stage.

Thus, from a purely financial perspective, it is important not just to qualify for the Champions League, but also to qualify in as high a position as possible. Fourth place may be considered a trophy these days, but second or third place are worth even more to the bank balance.

A club’s finances are also boosted if the club finishing fourth fails to win the qualifier for the group stage, as this would mean that the TV pool would then be split between only three teams instead of four. In the same way, it is better financially if the other English clubs do not progress as far as your team.

Note that these calculations assume that the total English TV pool is the same as last season, based on the Sky/ITV deal being more or less the same size, though there are some indications that it might be slightly lower.

However the money is split, there is no doubt that all the English clubs playing in the Champions League have a considerable monetary advantage over the rest of the Premier League, as can be seen by the above analysis of Media revenue from last season – and that was before the 2012/13 increases. As The Clash once sang, it is indeed a “Safe European Home”, at least for a privileged few.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Manchester United - Higher Than The Sun

The week after they clinched the Premier League title, Manchester United announced record third quarter turnover of £91.7 million, more than 13 clubs in England’s top flight achieved in the whole of the 2011/12 season. To further place United’s incredible ability to generate revenue into context, this quarterly result was about the same as Newcastle United’s revenue last season – and Newcastle have the seventh highest revenue in England.

Revenue was up 30% with all categories posting impressive growth: commercial 32% to £36.0 million, match day 28% to £34.0 million and broadcasting 28% to £21.7 million.

Match day revenue growth is due to the club staging three additional home matches in this quarter compared to the prior year quarter: four more FA Cup ties, offset by a one game reduction in European matches (one Champions League match less two Europa League matches).

Broadcasting revenue growth is largely due to United progressing to the Champions League round of 16, as opposed to exiting at the group stage the previous year.

However, it is the 32% commercial growth that is most impressive, driven by the addition of several new sponsorship deals. In fact, sponsorship revenue is up a cool 52% to £21.0 million, while retail & merchandising grew 10% to £9.2 million and new media and mobile rose 14% to £5.8 million. At this rate, United’s commercial revenue for the whole year could be around the same level as Real Madrid and Barcelona (around £150 million).

These figures include some money for the new Chevrolet shirt sponsorship deal, even though this does not fully kick in until the 2014/15 season, when it will be worth an astonishing £45 million ($70 million) compared to Aon’s current £20 million. However, United somehow negotiated for Chevrolet to pay them £11 million in each of the previous two seasons – while Aon are still the incumbent shirt sponsors. Amazing stuff.

Furthermore, the latest results do not include the new deal signed with Aon last month for the naming rights to the club’s Carrington training centre and sponsorship of the training kit and overseas tours. The club has not divulged how much this deal is worth with press estimates varying between £120 million and £180 million for the eight-year agreement, but it will certainly represent a significant uplift to the DHL £10 million training kit deal.

In addition, more money can be expected when the kit supplier deal is renegotiated for the 2014/15 season. Nike currently pay £25.4 million a season, but any replacement deal will generate considerably more with some analysts believing that this sum might double.

It’s not all good news in these figures, as wages have again grown by an unexpectedly high 25% to £44.9 million following expensive arrivals in the summer (including Robin van Persie from Arsenal and Shinji Kagawa from Borussia Dortmund), renegotiated contracts for existing players and growth in United’s commercial team. That said, the important wages to turnover ratio actually fell 2% to 49%

Similarly, other operating expenses rose a hefty 50% to £21.8 million, primarily due to the costs involved in staging the additional home games.

Once again, United’s profits were hit by net interest payable, which increased £14.8 million to £18.3 million, even though gross debt was £56 million lower than this time last year at £368 million. The increase was largely due to £15.7 million of adverse exchange rate movements after translating the US dollar denominated senior secured notes into Sterling. It should be noted that this is an unrealised FX loss that has no cash impact until the secured notes mature in 2017.

In fact, the interest payable is enough to produce a small £3.6 million pre-tax loss (compared to £2.8 million profit last year), though this becomes a £3.6 million post-tax profit after booking £6.7 million of non-cash tax credits (reflecting a lower effective tax rate).

Of course, one swallow does not make a summer and we should not attempt to draw too many conclusions from one quarter in isolation. If we look at the first nine months of the 2012/13 season, revenue of £278 million is 13% up on the same period for the prior year. That’s still very impressive, but not as much as Q3’s 30%.

In much the same way, wages have grown “only” 15% to £129 million, leading to a very good wages to turnover ratio of 47% for the period.

Nevertheless, profit before tax rose 22% to a very healthy £19.2 million (up from £15.7 million in 2011/12) with profit after tax even higher at £40.3 million, thanks to £21 million of tax credits. This could be a factor for a while in United’s figures, as the Q2 statement referred to £60 million of unrecognised deferred tax assets being available (of which £6.7 million was used in Q3).

All football clubs are affected by the seasonality of revenue, especially the phasing of matches, which not only affects gate receipts, but also TV money (in terms of Premier League merit payments and European distributions). This means that traditionally most revenue is recognised in Q2 and Q3.

United have said that they expect total 2012/13 revenue to be between £350 million and £360 million. Taking the mid-point of £355 million would imply Q4 revenue of £76.9 million, only £2.4 million higher than Q3 last season. That would mean a £35 million (11%) increase over the £320 million reported for 2011/12.

After that growth, United would remain the club with the third highest revenue in the world, though the gap to Real Madrid and Barcelona would reduce (based on the Spanish clubs’ budgets). In 2011/12 United were £71 million behind Barcelona in second place with £391 million, but the difference would be only £25 million at current exchange rates. In fact, the real gap would be even smaller, but for the weakening of the Pound, which has boosted overseas clubs’ revenue in Sterling terms.

If we annualise United’s nine month wages of £129 million, that implies an annual wage bill of £173 million, which would be around the same level as Chelsea’s 2011/12 figure and is around £20 million more than Arsenal’s estimate of £150-155 million. Of course, the calculation is not quite that simple (e.g. if we were to annualize Q3 alone, that would give £180 million), but it’s an interesting indication of the continuing wage inflation facing Manchester United.

The good news is that gross debt continues to fall, down from £437 million in June 2012 to £368 million in Q3 following the repurchase of £63 million of bonds. In fact, gross debt has been greatly reduced since the £773 million peak in 2010 with the hideously expensive PIKs now repaid. That said, United’s debt is still far higher than any other club in the Premier League with the next highest being Arsenal at £246 million.

United again demonstrated their ability to generate vast amounts of cash from their football operations with £57 million, spending a net £33 million on players (£41 million player purchases less £8 million sales), £11 million on infrastructure (property and equipment) and £2.7 million to complete the purchase of the club’s own TV channel, MUTV.

However, they also shelled out £46 million in interest payments and used the £69 million net proceeds from the IPO to fund £67 million of debt repayment. In the whole of 2011/12 United paid out £46 million in net interest, which was about the same as all other Premier League clubs combined.

So, this is a very good set of figures from Manchester United with even more growth to come, both from the seemingly never-ending stream of new sponsors and the blockbuster Premier League TV deal, which should be worth at least another £30 million. Indeed, Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman who will succeed David Gill as chief executive in July, said that the club still had plenty of untapped markets where they could sign sponsorship deals: “The opportunity remains huge.”

Wages growth is cause for some concern, though this will not be a major issue if revenue continues to grow apace. Moreover, under the Premier League Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, clubs with wage bills above £52 million will only be allowed to increase their wages by £4 million per season for the next three years. That said, the restriction only applies to TV money, so clubs are free to spend any additional income from ticket sales or commercial deals on wage growth. This caveat gives United plenty of flexibility with their demonstrable talent for increasing commercial income.

The one major irritant for United fans remains the high debt incurred as a result of the Glazers’ takeover, resulting in another £46 million leaving the club in the form of loan interest in the first nine months of 2012/13. Whatever praise the owners receive for their commercial acumen, there is no doubt that this money could be better used elsewhere. As the late, great Ian Dury once said, “What a Waste”.
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