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A recent pro soccer statistic from England carries significant long-term importance regarding a professional club’s revenue stream; specifically, a sports organization can be profitable without fans in the stands. Original NFL owner, Tex Schramm, forecast way back in the early 1980s that a football game could be played on a field-sized soundstage minus attendees.
The annual share of television income, by itself, and without any match day receipts, have put many English soccer clubs in the black. The £8.3 billion ($10,540 billion) generated by global television receipts, when shared with the English clubs, far surpasses the combined income per club from ticket sales, merchandise transactions, and sponsorship monies.
The rosy outlook benefits those low to mid ranked English clubs that have modest wages (staff and team) and without payment of exorbitant transfer fees to buy high priced talent. Not included in this proportional P & L bonanza are the traditional top five clubs, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool, which all must outlay substantial monies for operating costs, especially, player wages among the League’s top stars.
When these data were cited to the many of the clubs’ owners and managers, all said that hometown supporters represented the key to a club’s success. This statement is true for the lower division two and division three clubs that rely almost exclusively on ticket revenue.
The irony is that as pro sports media rights increase as contracts expire, the percentage of people globally watching on television screens declines as younger fans opt for streaming content via computers, tablets, and Smart Phones.
Notice though in the above chart that 2018 will witness North American media monies exceeding gate receipts for the first time.
Not one of all the professional rugby leagues in Europe and the southern hemisphere is listed among the world’s top sports media revenue generators. As the trend continues of television viewing supplanting the in-stadium match day experience, rugby clubs and rugby leagues must adjust to the new dynamic.