Soccer’s Premier League scores a record profit: Deloitte

Toby Harris and Luke Graham, special to CNBC
Premier League seeing good growth: Analyst

For the first time in 15 years, soccer clubs from the English Premier League have managed to post a profit, according to a new report, driven by a fall in wage bills and more lucrative broadcasting deals.

The clubs in England's top division posted combined pre-tax profit of £187 million ($290 million) in the 2013/14 season, Deloitte's Annual Review of Football Finance revealed on Thursday.

That's almost four times greater than the previous record set in 1997/98, and helped the league eclipse its nearest rivals from Germany and Spain.

It marks a significant turnaround for the Premier League, which accumulated pre-tax losses totaling £2.6 billion over the previous ten years, Deloitte's report noted.

Olivier Giroud of Arsenal jumps to head the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Fulham and Arsenal at Craven Cottage on August 24, 2013 in London.
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Alan Switzer, a director in Deloitte's Sports Business Group, told CNBC it was a "transformational change."

The research identifies trends in European soccer and examines the performance of U.K. soccer clubs in terms of revenue, profitability and spending on wages.

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The Premier League passed the £3-billion revenue mark for the first time in 2013/14, widening the gap with its nearest rival, the German League, to over £1 billion. The league now generates more revenue than the Italian and Spanish leagues combined, Deloitte said.

All 20 Premier League clubs are ranked in the top 40 globally in terms of revenue, according to the report. This continues to be underpinned by the strength of the Premier League's TV deals, with combined broadcast revenue rising 48 percent in 2013/14.

"The current broadcast deal has given Premier League clubs such a large revenue advantage over the vast majority of European clubs that they can still attract the top playing talent without over stretching themselves financially," Adam Bull, senior consultant of Deloitte's sports business group, said in a release.

"The introduction of cost control regulations at both a European and domestic level has caused many clubs to watch their spending more closely and created a useful tool for clubs to reduce the inflationary pressures during negotiations with players and agents."

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Premier League clubs are now required to limit their debt levels, and these regulations caused the wages-to-revenue ratio to fall from the record high in 2012/13 of 71 percent to just 58 percent -- its lowest since 1998/99.

This indicates that clubs could be seen as consistent, money-making businesses rather than exciting and enticing trophy assets.

"As businesses, football clubs have been able to weather the financial downturn in a way that most other businesses have not, so they do look fairly attractive in that respect," Richard Elliott, director of the Centre for Football Research at Southampton Solent University, told CNBC.

"If we see sustained profitability over the next few years then maybe football clubs may seem more desirable to the super-rich."

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