Elite clubs defy economic trends

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Football News

Europe's top clubs look to be successfully fending off the effects of the global recession after a strong showing in a recent report by financial experts Deloitte.

The Deloitte Sports Business Group presented research that suggests top-flight football has been less badly affected by the downturn than most other industries.

Dan Jones, a partner in the Sports Business Group at Deloitte, said: "When the economic downturn hit, we expressed cautious optimism for football clubs that the strong and loyal supporter base and the security of long-term broadcast and commercial deals would provide some degree of buffer against the worst effects of recession."

He added: "Leading football clubs and leagues outpaced the rest of the economy in the good times and now seem to be faring better than most in a challenging economic environment.

"Although conditions are likely to remain difficult in the short term, the fundamentals of football remain strong. Football is deeply integrated into many people's lives, and attending and watching live sport is habitual for fans who will sacrifice other luxury items before they will give up their sport 'fix'."

Their report indicates that the average attendances for the first two rounds of the Champions League are up 5% year-on-year, Premier League grounds are on course to remain at 90% capacity for a 17th consecutive season and both TV rights packages and shirt sponsorship deals are thriving.

The company's research puts average Champions League attendances over matchdays one and two at 37,400 this season, improving 5% on equivalent figures from 2008/09, while Premier League attendances up to the end of September are at 91% utilisation.

Deloitte also report that the shirt deals such as Liverpool's with Standard Chartered and Manchester United's with AON - both of which improved significantly on their previous agreements - allied to the consistently strong broadcast rights, put football in a strong position economically.

Jones suggested that the success of the elite clubs may also have a beneficial effect on the lesser lights.

"We are seeing a flight to quality whereby the largest clubs perform well but for smaller clubs the challenges are greater," he added. "(But) this fear of polarisation is eased by the distribution mechanism of Premier League broadcast monies. This money, and its proven resistance to recession, helps to level the playing field across the Premier League clubs."

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