Data by European football governing body UEFA shows that the COVID-19 pandemic cost European clubs $7.91 billion for two seasons even as player wages at top sides rose by 2% to $13.45 billion during the period.
Covid-19 virus disrupted football for two seasons, with many games in empty stadiums. With gate receipts revenue falling drastically, sponsorship down and television rights receipts hit.
Top-flight clubs suffered losses worth $4.52 billion in 2021, up from $3.39 billion the previous year.
The biggest losses came from empty stadiums, with revenues from ticket sales falling by 88% in 2020-21. Transfer revenues also took a tumble, dropping by 40%.
UEFA President, Aleksander Ceferin, is optimistic football activities will soon return fully across Europe with fans returning to stadiums.
“One lesson of the last two years has been that it is only by showing solidarity and working together that European football can overcome existential challenges such as the pandemic,” Ceferin said.
“This report provides sobering details of the post-pandemic challenges that await us. But whether the pandemic stays or goes, European football will stay strong, stable and united in 2022.”
UEFA also analysed the impact of Covid on the transfer market.
“Revenues due to transfers decreased by 40 per cent during summer 2020, January 2021 and summer 2021 transfer windows” compared to their original level, the European body pointed out.
European clubs spent $4,4 billion in the summer of 2021, compared to $7.4 billion in the summer transfer window of 2019.
Ligue 1 clubs have been among the hardest hit in Europe, with overall revenues down 29 per cent since March 2020, compared with around 20 per cent for England, Germany and Spain, and 26 per cent for Italy.
Between 2019 and 2020, Paris Saint-Germain saw its income drop by 15 per cent, to $641 million.
The Qatar-bankrolled French giants are among the Top 5 highest earners in Europe, behind Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester United.
Also, financial regulations by UEFA has helped to cushion the impact when it comes to the combination of strict rules on investment in owner shares and strong recurring revenue growth, which has made club football a more credible investment proposition.
The net worth of European first division clubs went from $2.2 billion at the end of 2010 to $11.2 billion at the start of the pandemic.
Many clubs would not have survived if the Covid-19 pandemic arrived ten years ago.