According to a recent study from KPMG Football Benchmark, Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, and FC Bayern Munich offer the best value for the money to its fans for season tickets in the upcoming 2016/17 season (of the top 32 clubs in Europe). By comparing each club’s enterprise value (EV) and their respective cheapest season ticket price, KPMG was able to come up with a “best for the money” ranking for the top clubs in European soccer heading into the 2016/17 season.
Though only 7 of the 20 clubs were included in the 32-team analysis, Premier League fans won’t be too happy to see the results compared to other top leagues. On average, season ticket holders at Arsenal, Manchester United, Everton, Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester City, and Chelsea will pay more than 3 times what their counterparts at the rest of the clubs in KPMG’s study will pay for comparable packages in 2016/17. But when you compare Premier League clubs’ average EV to the average of the remaining teams, they’re only about 2 times more valuable. As a result, all Premier League clubs, with the exception of Manchester City, fall into the “Red” category in the study, as the below figure depicts.While coming years may show a slightly different picture due to new broadcasting deals, Premier League clubs tend to rely more on matchday revenues than the upper echelon organizations, like the three mentioned above. This dynamic has changed dramatically over the last 10-20 years for top clubs as the globalization of the sport and of top leagues has allowed commercial and broadcasting revenues to skyrocket, putting slightly less pressure on clubs to fill every seat for every match. Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Bayern Munich have been able to accelerate the growth of their global commercial business over recent years a bit faster than most of the other clubs included in the study, and this a big component that drives their high EV.
For the most part, the remaining clubs in the study appear to charge about the ‘right amount’ for season tickets, commensurate with each club’s EV, so fans should feel reassured that they’re getting their money’s worth. That’s not to say that Premier League club fans won’t or shouldn’t feel like they’re getting a good deal for the experience, but as last season showed us, many Premier League fans are beginning to cry ‘uncle’ and push back on rising ticket prices across the league. To further illustrate the disparity versus the rest of top flight soccer in Europe, Andrea Sartori, KPMG Global Head of Sports added in a press release,
Here it is worth mentioning the example of Leicester City FC, fresh Premier League champions. The Foxes were playing in the Championship (tier 2) no more than two years ago. Although they were not selected in KPMG’s report, their cheapest season ticket (EUR 509) would stand in the top 10 of the table, higher than the likes of Juventus FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC or Atlético de Madrid, but also higher if compared to other domestic league winners such as PSV Eindhoven and SL Benfica.
The issue of rising ticket prices is something that’s been talked about for some time in global soccer, but seems to really be bubbling up in the Premier League. There are many other factors that combine for the overall ‘value’ of the fan experience at a match, such as on-pitch competition, stadium amenities, atmosphere, club history, and fans’ emotional connection to the club just to name a few (KPMG also acknowledges this in their study). Ticket prices and EV alone are not quite enough to definitively determine which club’s fans get the most ‘value’ for what they pay for the experience during the season, however, it does lend a very interesting and provocative perspective to this dynamic amongst soccer’s elite clubs. At the end of the day, perspective is reality. What clubs must focus on, in every league, is to make sure that fans feel that what they are getting in return for their financial outlay in support of their club is worth the squeeze, regardless of what the data might say. As we approach the next version of top-flight soccer in Europe just a few short weeks away, we should get a good pulse for fan sentiment and it will be interesting to see if, and how, clubs react to fan feedback moving forward.
What do you think about the differences across elite soccer leagues for the relationship between enterprise value and season ticket prices? Let us know in the comments section below, or via Facebook or Twitter.