The financial state of Italian clubs was laid bare to the world this week and it extremely worrying for any fan of Serie A.
Collectively, clubs in Serie A lost a combined €365 million last season, up from the €220m combined losses they had incurred just 12 months prior.
Only seven of the 19 clubs made money while Parma were relegated to Serie D after going bankrupt. Before such a worrying picture, Tavecchio has reminded that he did not wait until the recent revelations to address the problem.
With the financial health of Italian clubs worsening, FIGC President Carlo Tavecchio has confessed that the situation is worrying and that Serie A must do all it can to reverse the trend.
“The FIGC follow very intently the financial situations of all professional clubs,” the FIGC patron said. “I had personally stated in the past that there was cause for concern about the levels of debt at several clubs.
“I had led the implementation of a three-year plan of strict rules and standards to accompany clubs and help them break even.”
A look at the chart shows that while overall revenues in Serie A have risen to €1.84 billion, €40m more than in 2013/14, they have been basically flat for the past decade, rising by only 31%. That means that Italian clubs are falling behind those in England, Spain and German in terms of generating revenue.
With €1.2b in costs going into wages, Serie A clubs have found it difficult to achieve a positive balance sheet due to a lack of lucrative sponsorship deals and other revenue streams.
Attendance continues to be an issue in Italy, which has a significant impact on the revenue of every club. TV revenue for Serie A is third out of the big five in Europe, trailing Spain and England. But the distance between the Premier League and Serie A continues to widen with the lowest team in England taking in more than the top team in Italy, at least for domestic rights.
But it is commercial sales that really highlights the gulf between Italy and the rest of Europe.
According to UEFA, the Premier League clubs take in a combined €1.04B in commercial revenue. Germany is second with €943m, France third with €634m, Spain fourth at €470m and Italy fifth at €407m.
Serie A sides, except for Juventus, are in the vicious cycle where they are falling behind the other top European leagues in terms of revenue.
One worrying sign for Italian football is that almost all of the debt is being accumulated by teams chasing Juventus. Roma, Inter, Milan and Fiorentina lost a combined €310m last season, that is 85% of the losses accumulated by all Serie A clubs. That is unsustainable. Juventus’s title run and Champions League success means that they now generate over €100m more than other Italian club, putting the long-term balance of the league at risk.