The last few months were very hard for sports leagues around the world. Football was hit especially hard by the ongoing crisis, with pretty much every season across Europe suspended, some even cancelled entirely. As you might expect, this also means that football leagues across the globe, especially in Europe, were hit hard at their revenues. Some leagues and clubs revealed that their losses were hundreds of millions, and clubs themselves have also revealed that at times, they were pretty close to bankruptcy.
Everyone from broadcasters and bloggers to betting outlets like Betway and sportswear manufacturers have felt the effects of the crisis the world of sports has gone through in the first half of the year. To ease these, UEFA has decided to allow more flexible use of its UEFA HatTrick programme to help its 55 member associations through these trying times.
A vital component of European football
“The UEFA HatTrick programme is a vital component of European football and its importance has never been clearer,” UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin said. “By lifting the conditions to release HatTrick funds to our associations, we have been able to look ahead to the resumption of our competitions”.
The HatTrick programme started in 2004, funded by the UEFA’s profits from the Champions League. Despite the 2020 edition’s postponement, the UEFA was quick to reassure its member associations that it will still honour the programme’s 2020-2024 funding cycle to safeguard the game. The goals of the programme are multiple: to increase investment in the sport, to improve education, and to widen knowledge-sharing in football. The amount allocated to this programme has grown with each cycle, from around €300 million (approximately $340 million) in 2004-2008 to over $800 million in the cycle starting this year.
A year of losses
This year was especially painful for everyone involved with football, from fans to football clubs. According to studies conducted by analysts at KPMG and LearnBonds, the major European football leagues have suffered losses of up to €4.1 billion ($4.62 billion) in the first half of the year.
Football leagues and clubs have several revenue streams to rely on – and all of them were cut during the first half of the year. One of the biggest sources of revenue for football leagues (and football clubs, of course) is broadcast rights. And with no matches to broadcast, this revenue stream disappeared, along with ticket sales. With the matches being played without a live audience henceforth, the second revenue stream remains absent.
The biggest losses were suffered by the English Premier League, with an estimated €1.28 billion in lost revenue. France’s Ligue 1, that cancelled the tournament for this year, lost an estimated €400 million ($451 million) in 2020 so far.