The Numbers Game
David Fearnhead assesses how our local clubs have fared post-lockdown
The cost of Covid19 has been estimated at close to one billion pounds to the English Premier League (EPL) with the biggest hit coming from broadcasting rights.
The EPL has the fifth most lucrative TV deal in the sport, and the biggest in world football. In the last three-year cycle combined domestic and international sales totalled eight billion pounds. It is thought Burnley, as one of 20 clubs in the Premier League, currently receive around £82 million per season in television money. However, a recent Deloitte survey shows income generated from Premier League broadcasting rights is forecast to plunge by £860 million.
A further £162m was estimated to be lost on match day revenue as EPL matches were played out in empty stadia. Across all four leagues it was estimated at £305m*.
Burnley fared significantly better than nearly every other Premier League side. With an estimated £4m drop, only relegated Bournemouth had smaller match-day losses than the Clarets. In fact, Burnley’s lost income from match days were smaller than those of Championship clubs Leeds, Derby, Fulham, Nottingham Forest, Huddersfield Town, Stoke City and even League One Club Sunderland. Lost match-day earnings cost Manchester City an estimated £23.9m and Manchester United an estimated £17.8m, with champions Liverpool estimated lost match-day income totalling £12.9m.
The Manchester clubs are also said to have led the way in the least cost-effective Premier League clubs when comparing the wage bill with league points gained**. It is understood United were the least efficient, spending an estimated £2m per point delivered. City came in second from bottom with a £1.8m spend per point. However, Liverpool were comfortably mid-table with £1.1m.
You have to go all the way up the chart to fourth place to find Burnley who spent an average of £685,630 in wages per Premier League point, compared to the £636,857 of relegated Norwich who traded their cost-efficiency for a place in the Premier League. Sheffield United topped the table with £250,370, with Wolves in second place (£521,983).
Burnley’s Premier League form appeared to be unaffected by the Covid shutdown. They were 10th prior to lockdown, the same position they finished the season in. In truth they had already had their mid-season wobble. From mid-October to mid-January they lost 10 of the 14 matches played, but went into lockdown having steadied the ship. Whilst a 5-0 thrashing by Manchester City in June hurt, they were the only club to take a league point away from Anfield.
In their fourth successive year in Premier League, it is understood that Burnley FC Holdings recorded a £4.3m surplus. That following a record pre-tax profit of £45m, after their top-seven finish in 2018. Sean Dyche has consistently worked miracles with one of the tightest budgets in the league, but the 2018/19 season should serve as a warning. Burnley flirted with relegation the season they played European football and if they are to avoid similar, they must give Dyche the money he needs to recruit and retain talent such as Nick Pope, James Tarkowski and Dwight McNeil. Failure to do so will only add to the uncertainly which surrounds the club’s most prized possession, the manager himself.
When estimated match-day revenue losses in the EFL were calculated, Preston North End sat 18th with £2.3m, and Blackburn Rovers 21st with estimated match day revenue losses of £2.2m. Accrington Stanley finished the season the best of the League One clubs with the lowest match day losses estimate of £414,990, Fleetwood Town were next with £433,675. Meanwhile Blackpool were 10th in the league’s biggest losses with £1.2m. Morecambe placed 21st in the League Two with £294,320 in estimated match day losses.
Burnley’s frugal nature is in stark contrast to their traditional rivals. Blackburn Rovers accounts for the year leading to June 2019 revealed operating losses estimated to be around £18.2m. Rovers’ supporters could be forgiven for having low expectations at the start of the 2019/20 season, and early indications were that that lack of ambition was justified.
Blackburn won just four of their games from August to November, with half ending in defeat. Then followed a run of 22 games with 10 wins and just four defeats. Rovers fans were warming to the idea that a play-off berth might be possible, but a post-lockdown win was followed by three consecutive defeats as promotion hopes faltered. Expectations for next season will be duly realistic as fans nervously await what happens in the transfer window.
Preston would have gone into lockdown still with hope. When the season was halted they sat in sixth. Even weathering a run of defeats through February and March. However, the enforced break did little to change the tide. They picked up just one point from their first four games post lockdown and finished the season in 10th. They’ll be hoping Daniel Johnson can find the net with more frequency when they return for the new season.
*Source: Business Rescue Expert
Premier League and EFL Football returns on 12th September